Lone Working – From Safety Revolution

The following content was written by Rob Gibbs from Safety Revolution.


“Safety Revolution is a leading specialist in Health & Safety and Human Resource Consultancy established to assist Farms, Estates, Contractors and Equine operations throughout the UK.”

It is likely that either you or your employees regularly undertake Lone Working. Whether it is looking after and tending to livestock or even just travelling around the farm on an ATV. These activities are dangerous in themselves, in the past year (2012/13) there were three deaths related to ATVs and seven deaths related to livestock in the UK. When working on your own however, these activities pose even higher risks. If an incident does occur without the right training and equipment what could be considered a bad incident, could potentially become fatal.

One example is a 53-year old who sustained serious injuries to his pelvis when the quad bike he was driving overturned on a slope. His absence was not detected until 52 hours later, at which point a search was initiated. His body was found some 200 yards away from the scene of the accident, in a separate field. He had no means of raising the alarm although there was a mobile phone signal. The trustees of the estate were prosecuted because the injured gamekeeper clearly did not die immediately and if he had a means of communication then he would have had an opportunity to summon help.

One way of the key ways to reduce the risks associated with Lone Working is to ensure that all employees are able to effectively communicate with someone in the case of an incident. There are many solutions available to solve this problem. All these solution involve employees carrying their own personal Lone Working device and the most popular and up to date systems contain many of the same features. Some of these features include:

  • A panic button that can be pressed for an instant emergency alert to be sent out.
  • GPS technology that allows the location of the wearer to be constantly tracked.
  • A ‘Man Down’ function that sets off the panic button if the device is tipped further than a specified angle.
  • Two way voice communication from device to receiver. This allows the employee to communicate the circumstances of an incident.
  • A control center service that receives any emergency alerts and notifies the relevant emergency services. This allows the system to be effective 24/7.

Equipping all Lone Workers with a lone working device is a great way to allow effective communication in case of emergency. Due to the costs however it is not always possible for smaller businesses to be able to afford a Lone Working device system. In these cases you should:

  • Make sure all staff carry a mobile phone.
  • Make sure all staff know where there is a reduced mobile phone signal.
  • Issue all seasonal and new staff with contact numbers in case of emergencies.
  • Make sure staff leave a copy of phone numbers with someone at home.

Whether you use a Lone Working system or whether all employees are just equipped with mobile phones, these tips below will help reduce further the risk of Lone Working.

  • Mark all field plans with grid references in case an air ambulance is needed.
  • If you have staff who don’t speak very good English, make sure they understand where they are going and can contact someone who will know where they are if they need help.
  • Have everyone checked in at the end of the day – make sure no-one is left unaccounted for.
  • Remind everyone regularly to keep in regular contact with each other throughout the day.

About Farm Safety For Just Kids

Farm Safety For Just Kids is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to rural children and youth. We produce and distribute educational materials addressing various dangers commonly found in the rural environment. Farm Safety For Just Kids is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers located throughout the United States and Canada. The organization also has part-time outreach coordinators in several states. Chapters, outreach coordinators, and volunteers conduct educational programs to raise awareness about safety and health issues affecting their communities.
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