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TheFriday 03 April 2020

The coronavirus lockdown could lead to more remote workers than ever, each one deserving protection

The coronavirus crisis will have many long-term consequences - among them is a potential shift in attitudes towards remote workers as employers realize that many of us can be fully productive without travelling to the office five days a week.

With the World Health Organization elevating the coronavirus outbreak from an epidemic to a pandemic, millions of businesses are now forced to contend with the prospect of managing a completely remote workforce. Major companies like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google have already implemented remote work policies for many of their employees.

A shift to more remote working where feasible is a change that Swindon Accident Solicitors would welcome, not least because of the environmental benefits from taking a significant proportion of the workforce off the roads. But with one caveat, that lone workers - including those who work at home, are afforded the same protections as every other worker.

Lone workers can face the same hazards at work as anyone else but there is a greater risk of these hazards causing harm, mainly because these workers may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong.

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, employers must manage any health and safety risks before people can work alone. This applies to anyone contracted to work for a company, including the self-employed. 

Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, including health care workers, delivery drivers, security staff, cleaners, petrol station workers and of course, people working remotely from home. Risks that particularly affect lone workers include stress and mental health or wellbeing.

Employers should set limits on what can be done by people working alone, making sure workers are competent to deal with the requirements of the job, trained in using any technical solutions, and able to recognise when they should get advice.

Levels of supervision should be based on risk assessment – the higher the risk, the more supervision they will need.

Employers must monitor their lone workers and keep in touch with them. They must also make sure they understand any monitoring system and procedures. These may include when supervisors should visit and observe lone workers, knowing where lone workers are, with pre-agreed intervals of regular contact, using phones, radios, email, etc.

There are advantages and disadvantages to working alone, but the HSE is clear - lacking protection from your employer should not be one of the latter.

If you have suffered an accident at work because of the negligence of your employer, wherever it happens, please contact Swindon Accident Solicitors on 01793 425595 for a FREE, no-obligation consultation on how to make a claim for compensation.

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