In this section

In This Section

Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including to the individual staff member who works alone.

Employees also have legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and other people who may be affected by their work activities and to co-operate with their employer on meeting legal obligations.

Who are lone workers?

Lone working in the NHS is described as ‘any situation in which someone works without a colleague nearby, or when someone is working out of sight or earshot of another colleague’.   

The term ‘lone worker’ can refer to a wide variety of staff who work, either regularly or occasionally, on their own. Lone working is not unique to any particular staff group, working environment or time of day. It may apply to:   

  • people who work outside normal working hours
  • people who work in direct contact with the public
  • people who work remotely from or within a central office
  • people who are remote from access to standard emergency services

Employer’s duty

Employers have a legal duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to either avoid the risks or removal of the risks.

This may include:

  • Conducting a risk assessments which identify the potential risks
  • Involving SoR safety reps, or workers when considering the potential risks and measures to control them
  • Take suitable and sufficient steps to ensure the risks are removed where possible or put in place suitable control measures
  • Ensuring staff are trained, receive correct and up to date information and has appropriate levels of supervision in place

o   Training is particularly importance where there is limited supervision to control, guide and help in uncertain situations,

o   Training may also be crucial in enabling people to cope in unexpected circumstances and with exposure to violence and aggression,

o   The level of supervision required will depend on the findings of the risk assessment, the ability of the lone worker to identify and handle health and safety issues

  • Review risk assessments periodically or when there has been an incident or change to working practice.

o   E.g. Being aware that some tasks such as manual handling may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by a unaccompanied lone worker,

o   Lone working with patients who may demonstrate unpredictable behaviour, (alcohol, drugs, dementia for example)

o   If an employee has a medical condition should they work alone, both routine work and foreseeable emergencies should be considered,

Quick checklist for Lone Workers

Quick checklist



Is your staff trained in appropriate strategies for the prevention and management of violence?



Have they received conflict resolution training?



Have your staff been issued with all policies and procedures relating to lone working?



Have all staff been given all the information about the risks of aggressive and violent behaviour by patients, service users and the appropriate measures for controlling the risks?



Have they been issued with appropriate lone worker safety devices and procedures for maintaining it



Have they been trained to confidently use the device and to understand how the support systems behind it, will support them?



Do they know how to report an incident?



Do they know how important it is to report all incidents when they occur?



Do they know who to report incidents to?



Do they keep in constant contact?



Are staff aware they should never put themselves or colleagues in danger and that, if they feel threatened, they should withdraw from the situation immediately?



Do they understand their responsibility for their own safety



























Download lone working risk assessment


Documents available

Health and Safety Executive

Lone Workers

Working alone


The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group (HSWPG)

Improving the personal safety for lone workers