June 7, 2018
Workplace violence and occupational hazards are a growing concern for businesses that employ onsite and offsite workers. On average, OSHA reports workplace violence affects 2 million American workers 1 and workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses $52 Billion dollars per year 2. Across industries, increased automation and the mobility of the workforce means employees are no longer required to be in close proximity to supervisors and co-workers.
Who Are Lone Workers?
Lone workers are individuals who work without co-workers or supervisors in the vicinity and conduct their work in the community — which can mean they are especially vulnerable if their jobsite for the day takes place in an unprotected or unpredictable environment. Robbery, physical assault, verbal abuse, harassment, injuries and even animal bites are just a few of the dangers that Lone Workers face as a result of working out of vehicles, customers’ homes, and on work sites.
Types of Lone Workers and the Challenges They Face
Drivers: Couriers and delivery drivers encounter a diverse range of risks while carrying out their routes. The challenges they face include physical injuries like slips and falls during deliveries, robberies and carjackings due to overnight shifts and driving through high-risk areas, in addition to traffic accidents while on the road.
Utility Workers: Utility workers — especially in electric and gas companies who handle hazardous materials — are often exposed to dangerous weather conditions during outages. Utility workers also contend with frustrated, and in some cases, hostile customers while servicing outages or repairs. Unique to working in utilities, workers face the possibility of falling out of cherry pickers with few options to seek medical attention quickly and report injuries to their organization.
Cable Installers: Cable installers, similar to utility workers, are exposed to unsafe weather conditions and encounter elevated risk due to the isolated environment of working in customers’ homes.
Healthcare Workers: The CDC reports that the rate for assault on home healthcare providers is twice as high than the national average 3. Factors that compound the risk of violence are: working with patients who have histories of mental health issues, substance abuse or a history of violence. Healthcare providers also experience a notable degree of assault, verbal abuse and harassment from patients or their family members. While working in their patient’s homes, healthcare workers may encounter the following: instances of substance use, unsanitary conditions, firearms or even aggressive animals. As a result, home healthcare workers experience a significant level of occupational stress 4.
Gig-economy Workers: An emerging yet loosely regulated industry is the gig economy, comprised of workers like rideshare drivers, food delivery drivers and other freelance workers. Typical hazards include road-related incidents 5, harassment, verbal and physical abuse from passengers 6. Since these workers are classified as independent contractors, they are primarily responsible for their health and safety while working. This raises concerns with labor experts since gig employers are not required to comply with labor regulations and may not supply gig-employees with traditional safety measures 7.
Powering Prevention For Your Lone Workers
The LiveSafe Command and Communication Dashboard enables your organization to understand risks and share risk intelligence. Whether it is a tip supported by a photo, video or location data sent from an employee or a broadcast message sent from security officials through a filtered subgroup or geofence from the dashboard map, LiveSafe’s Command and Communication Dashboard provides a robust solution for sharing risk intelligence.
The LiveSafe Mobile Experience is an intuitive app that leverages the one device everyone has on their person – their smartphone. Using the LiveSafe mobile app you can receive important safety communications from your organization, send risk insights to security organizations and engage in a 1-to-1 communications in everyday or high risk scenarios. In urgent scenarios, you can dial 911 or contact your security officials with a few taps of a button.
As the numbers of Lone Workers in the labor force increases, the need to engage employees on preventative safety measures and safety culture is more and more urgent. Enabling employees who assume greater risk to report incidents, potential hazards or risks and providing easy-to- use tools to connect employees to the help they need and stay informed while out in the community is vital. With the LiveSafe Solution, your organization can drive to prevention, contain risk and above all, keep your employees safe.
About Jordan: Jordan Cline is a Marketing Content Writer at LiveSafe, a podcast contributor and is passionate about leveraging mobile technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a safer place.
1 OSHA Publications, “Workplace Violence OSHA Fact Sheet,” Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, https://www.osha.gov/pls/publications/publication.athruz?pType=Industry&pID=231.
2 “UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed June 05, 2018. https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/topics/businesscase/costs.html.
3 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Occupational Hazards in Home Healthcare, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-125/pdfs/2010-125.pdf.
5 “The Gig Economy and Contingent Work: An Occupational… : Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,” LWW, February 27, 2017, accessed June 05, 2018, http://journals.lww.com/joem/Fulltext/2017/04000/The_Gig_Economy_and_Contingent_Work___An.20.aspx.
6 Molly McHugh, “Uber and Lyft Drivers Work Dangerous Jobs-But They’re on Their Own,” Wired, June 03, 2017, accessed June 05, 2018, https://www.wired.com/2016/03/uber-lyft-can-much-keep-drivers-safe/.
7 Kevin Druley, “The Gig Economy and Worker Safety,” Safety Health Magazine, November 14, 2017, accessed June 05, 2018, http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/16291-the-gig-economy-and-worker-safety.