Protecting lone workers through Covid-restrictions
February 24 2021 - Protecting lone workers is an issue that businesses may not have come across before now, particularly companies and organisations who were previously working in city centre office blocks before the hit of covid-19. With hundreds of business districts left empty throughout lockdown and many not able to work from home, protecting lone workers is a matter that more management teams are having to think about.
Here at Digital ID, ID card and card printer provider Jonathan Fell, highlights some of the ways to look after members of staff who are lone working during lockdown number two.
"Most businesses have learnt to deal with the challenges around managing teams remotely, but what about the needs of those employees who are unable to or wonít work from home. In following Government guidelines, businesses could be unintentionally putting employees who need to stay office-based at risk in other areas - security, mental health/wellbeing and medical suitability being just a few of the potential causes for concern.
"Even if there are a small number of employees in the workplace you should still put procedures in place for times in the day when workers will be alone for example lunchbreaks and variations in contracted hours."
Working from home
Although working from home has become the new normal over the past year, it leaves a burden for those in HR. In the government guidance, there has been an update which takes into account the need to balance working from home with the impact covid-19, and the importance of checking up on employees regarding their mental health.
From the Covid-19 government winter plan, it states, "The Government is committed to supporting everyoneís wellbeing and mental health throughout the winter period to help people through this difficult time. The Wellbeing and Mental Health Support Plan for COVID-19, outlines the Governmentís plan to strengthen the mental health and wellbeing support and services available to those who need them."
Although employers have been encouraged by the government to enable a greater degree of home working, it is recognised that there are specific reasons why attendance in the workplace may be needed, including mental health issues or concern or a need to work on-site physically. In industries and sectors where working from home is not possible, businesses have taken clear steps to protect the health and safety of staff and customers through following Government guidance, making their workplaces COVID-secure, enabling staff to observe hands, face, space and adopting behaviours that will reduce transmission.
Jonathan Fell said, "My suggestion at this time is to pay attention to your people, hear their concerns and respond appropriately and fairly.† Everyone is acting differently at the moment and behaviour is out of character for many, it is worth acting with patience and exploring concerns together with the employee so as to mitigate the risks of time-consuming grievances, increased absence, performance issues, resignations and claims as examples."
Security and access control
"One of the central issues is security," said Jonathan. "Making sure that staff members are not put into hazardous circumstances in the workplace. Itís important to remember that vacant offices could be a possible target for theft, leaving employees on their own more vulnerable to robbery. Your lone worker will need briefing and support in how to identify and report threats.
"To reflect those leaving and entering the building, updating the safety system is going to be essential. In the matter of ID cards that means ensuring your policies are updated to cover new procedures in connection to lone workers and the building.
"Someone should be chosen to detect the login records to make sure employees arrive and leave at the normal times - fortunately thatís simple to do remotely with a digital ID card system. If your present access control system doesnít enable you to do this, you should really consider upgrading your system."
Find out more about this over on the Digital ID blog.
"Having someone on call and close enough to respond in an emergency is another important consideration. A suggestion here is to put emergency contact information onto the reverse of their ID or access cards. This means contact numbers will be easy to find and use if a person needs help quickly.
"Things like checking your employee has good mobile phone coverage in the place of work is something a lot of people donít think about but is very important these days. If they donít, then theyíll need an active landline within easy access.
"If photo ID is linked to an entry control system, you may need to restrict access to some of the building in light of any new changes. Consider where things need to be accessed and how often by the lone worker, possibly moving some things around within the workplace to ensure they can stick to a smaller footprint that will reduce potential hazards.
"A final thought on security is that coming in and leaving at exactly the same time every day carrying laptops or other equipment could make them a target for personal theft, this needs to be considered against travelling at times when itís dark and empty. All should be included in a full risk assessment."Itís important to keep in mind that as a business youíre also responsible for workers lone working at home, whilst there wonít complex access concerns here, looking after the mental health and wellbeing of your employees should remain a priority. As well as making sure they know what to do in a medical emergency".
Digital ID is the UKís largest ID card company offering a complete service. For 25 years the organisation has helping businesses and their employees stay secure. It supplies a variety of products and services including plastic ID card printing, ID card printers and lanyards made to meet the requirements of its customers. Find out more at www.digitalid.co.uk