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QR Codes – Protecting the Nation’s Lone Workers

In the UK, there are estimated to be up to 8 million lone workers, representing 22% of the UK working population.

Lone workers can be those who work by themselves away from a fixed base; who work on the same premises but out of sound and sight of a colleague; who work outside normal hours; who work alone but with members of the public, or who work from home, travel alone or are left alone for periods of time.

Under current health and safety law, employers have a duty of care to protect their lone workers, whether it’s an employee, contractor, freelancer or self-employed worker.

Lone workers face greater risk without direct supervision, or access to someone who can help them if something goes wrong. For these reasons, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, employers must manage the risk to lone workers, thinking about who will be involved and the specific hazards faced.

What are employers’ responsibilities to lone workers?

Risks that can specifically affect lone workers include isolation, threat of violence, stress, accident, or error due to lack of supervision.

As well as training, supervising and monitoring lone workers and making sure they do not have any conditions that may make lone working an unsuitable risk, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that employers have a legal responsibility to keep in touch with lone workers and respond to any incident.

Specifically, the HSE states that employers should ‘know where lone workers are, with pre-agreed intervals of regular contact, using phones, radios, email, etc.’, and that there should be a reliable system in place to ‘ensure a lone worker has returned to their base once they have completed their task.’

There is also advice for employers of non-native English speaking lone workers, namely that they must ensure they have received and understood the safety protocols and training that they need to work safely.

The QR code solution to lone worker tracking

A QR code check in for lone workers involves staff using their smartphone to scan a code as they arrive onsite. As soon as they do so, their management team is notified that they have a lone worker at any given location, providing them with accurate positioning information and so ticking the crucial ‘know where lone workers are’ box.

On checking in via the QR code, the lone worker is provided with on-screen fingertip access to direct communication tools, including text and audio messaging and the ability to capture and send images.

In urgent situations, using the QR code-powered lone worker check in app, an SOS alert can be sent to the management team, defining the worker’s precise location, so that emergency action can be taken to protect them. All of this ticks the required ‘regular contact’ box, defined as necessary under UK health and safety legislation.

Other information can be provided to the user via QR codes for lone workers, such as site-specific health and safety information and emergency procedures. You can also incorporate a requirement for the worker to confirm they have read and understood the instructions.

Even better, because lone worker QR codes are able to deliver information in a variety of languages, the individual worker gets to read the information in their first language, so bringing down accessibility barriers and ticking the required ‘received and understood the safety protocols’ box, regardless of their native tongue.

Finally, the system also allows the worker to check-out so that the management team knows they have returned to a place of safety.

Lone worker check in system for leading contract cleaner

QR code check in for lone workers is something the team here at Bangl developed for one of the UK’s largest and longest established private contract cleaning firms, CLD Services Ltd

In need of an efficient and failsafe way for their cleaning operatives to register at a site, and for the central management team to be immediately notified to any lone worker situation, we created a platform based on the Bangl check-in, sign out system.

We tailored the lone worker check in system to alert management personnel in real time when operatives became lone workers at any given location, and created a built-in two-way communication tool to allow both parties to keep in touch.

Scanning the lone worker QR codes also provides access to job sheets and other site-relevant documentation, ensuring all the legislative boxes are well and truly ticked.

This lone worker tracking system is now in use at over 200 sites managed by CLD Services throughout London and the South East.

Looking for a lone worker tracking system?

QR codes have much to offer in terms of keeping lone workers safe.

The Bangl QR code lone worker check in system is an effective way to keep track of and in touch with any type of lone worker, and to provide them with the vital health and safety information they need to remain safe at work.

Need to know more? Contact us. We’re here to help make the everyday that bit easier for business owners.

First published: 9th February 2023 | Author: Anthony Kirrane.
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