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What can be done to keep the solo worker safe?

Solitary work may suit some DuPage County employees, but working alone can be dangerous. Working in pairs and groups provides a safety net in case of a medical emergency or work-related accident. In a remote location, a lone employee may have no way to communicate if something goes wrong.

Solo employees are hired for all types of jobs like security guards, overnight factory shifts, delivery driving, agricultural work and utility repair and service. Companies are just as responsible for the safety of lone employees as more visible groups of workers. Employers may have to take extra precautions to ensure single workers are protected.

Workplaces should develop safety plans as part of a creating the least hazardous work environment possible. Companies must train all employees to handle chemicals, tools and machinery in a proper manner. Workers should know how to communicate with one another effectively and respond quickly to any on-the-job crises.

Solo employees can be equipped with tracking and alerting devices, cellphones and two-way radios. Contact with a lone worker should occur at set intervals. It's advisable for managers to make regular visits to the place where the solo employee is stationed.

Monitoring and assessments of risk must be conducted and updated, depending on changes in the duties or work site.

Federal job safety regulators have little material to guide employers about solo worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically issues finely-detailed recommendations specific to certain occupations. The solitary employee advice seems to be confined to common sense tips.

Companies who employ solitary shipyard workers are told to "account for" a lone employee at the start and end of a shift and periodically during work hours. The number of times checks required varies according to the length of an assigned task.

Solo employees are eligible for workers' compensation benefits for work-related injuries. An attorney's assistance in filing and defending claims can be valuable.

Source: Safety Health, "Lone worker safety," Tom Musick, accessed Aug. 21, 2015

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