Protecting Lone Workers during the Summer

Picture of Andrea Lebron By Andrea Lebron

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Lone workerEmployers have a mandated duty of care to protect all workers from risk of injury, but during the summer it can be easy to overlook lone workers exposed to seasonal hazards. We look at some of the most common seasonal hazards encountered by lone workers and how employers can enhance their safety.

The term lone worker can relate to any employee working in isolation, working in the field, working remotely, or travelling between destinations on their own. That covers quite a lot of people. It has been estimated that, by 2020, fifty percent or more of the working population will be working remotely, yet according to our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey, twenty-six percent of all employees feel that worrying about their safety affects their work.

In relation to lone workers, the percentage of concerned employees is probably higher. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a table of fatal occupational injuries, and three of the six categories (transportation accidents, violence, and environmental exposure) are particularly relevant to lone workers. The remaining three categories may also be relevant if a lone worker sustains an injury in an isolated location where no help is available.

BLS: Fatal Occupational Injuries by Event - 2017

Transportation

41%

Contact with Objects

13%

Trips, Slips, and Falls

18%

Environmental Exposure

10%

Violence

16%

Fires & Explosions

2%

 

Why Certain Categories are More Dangerous in the Summer

Certain categories of occupational injuries are more likely in the summer months than they are in the winter due to the warmer weather. Evidence was presented by the New York Times last year that gun crimes rise in tandem with temperatures, and that more violence occurs outdoors than indoors in the summer - particularly in disadvantaged communities that don´t have access to air-conditioning in order to escape the heat.

Rising temperatures can also cause heat stress - a condition that occurs when the body temperature heats up faster than it can cool itself down. Heat stress can overwhelm the body´s coping mechanisms, leading to a variety of serious and possibly fatal conditions. When exposed to extreme heat, employees are at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke - the effects of which can vary from mild to life-threatening depending on the general health of the individual.

Lone workers can also be more at risk from other environmental issues during the summer - such as poor air quality insect bites. Between 1992 and 1997, bites from spiders and other insects accounted for 36,100 reported non-fatal occupational injuries (PDF) and illnesses; and - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - between ninety and one hundred people die each year in the U.S. due to an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting.

How to Protect Lone Workers from Summer Dangers

It´s not possible to put a defensive ring around a lone employee to protect them from violence, the strength of the sun, or biting insects; but it is possible for employers to maintain constant communication with lone workers in order to check on their wellbeing, encourage them to speak up if they are uncomfortable in any environment, and provide training for the most likely summer dangers they will encounter - or the resources to deal with less likely summer dangers.

One of the best ways to enhance the safety of lone workers during the summer is through an employee safety app. This easy-to-operate app contains many different features that support employers attempting to protect lone workers against summer dangers. The app also includes an emergency call button, a safety timer, and a geo-targeted push notification capability that means employers can simultaneously keep in touch with groups of lone workers working in the same location.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

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Written by Andrea Lebron

Andrea is Rave's Director of Digital Marketing, a master brainstormer and avid coffee drinker. Andrea joined Rave in August 2017, after 10 years of proposal and corporate marketing at an environmental engineering firm. You'll find her working with her amazing team in writing and producing blogs like this one, improving your journey to and through our website, and serving you up the best email content. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she's chasing after her three daughters or indulging in her husband's latest recipe. Andrea has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing/Management from Northeastern University and an MBA from Curry College.

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Lone Worker Infographic

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