Safety authorities in California recommend that companies use the buddy system, which leaves nobody working alone. Each employee works along with a buddy, and they look out for each other’s safety. However, if you are a lone worker, there will be no one on whom you can rely for safety support, and staying safe will require particular attention.
Your job might not necessarily require you to work in isolation, although it might. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health makes it your employer’s duty to provide a safe work environment, but you might report to a different work location every day — away from your employer’s physical location.
Special safety protocols
As a lone worker, you will have specific safety needs, and your employers must implement a program accordingly. You will face all hazards on your own, and your employer must consider several issues, including the following:
- Hazard analysis: Before you start your tasks, your employer must identify all potential safety hazards, both those posed by the job location and by the work you must carry out. He or she must then establish a safety strategy and integrate it into your job.
- Risk assessment: This is the process of assessing the risk level and probability of each hazard identified in the hazard analysis. The two processes go hand in hand, as an assessed risk level can determine the need for analysis of a hazard before implementation of control or elimination measures.
- Human factors: As a lone worker, human factors such as fatigue and complacency could play an essential role in your safety. Your employer can provide specific training to teach you how to avoid human factors and keep them from affecting you in high-risk situations when a clear head could mean the difference between life and death.
- Supplementary training: You must receive additional training in tasks such as those involving equipment operation and portability for a single person. First aid training and a specially equipped kit to meet all needs should form part of your preparation to do lone work.
- Emergency plan: You might find yourself as the only responder in the event of an emergency, and without a proper emergency plan in place, your life might be at risk. You must also learn which communication devices are in place and how to use them.
- Communication: Regular contact from your office is essential, and the frequency can depend on the risks you face — while hourly contact might do in some circumstances, high-risk jobs might require communication at 15-minute intervals. The most appropriate devices to maintain contact could be GPS, radios, walkie-talkies, satellite phones, cellphones or smartphones, and you must keep the chosen device with you at all times.
- Emergency response system: You might feel a whole lot safer if you have a system that could summon emergency services if necessary. Smartphone apps are available that can alert authorities of an emergency while pinpointing your location, and carrying an audible alarm might provide further peace of mind.
Regardless of how carefully your employer considers all the safety hazards and establishes protocols to keep you safe, accidents could happen. When they do, you need to know that the California workers’ compensation insurance program will have your back. Furthermore, resources are available to assist with the navigation of benefits claims to help you cope with the financial consequences of a workplace injury.