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Keeping lone workers safe on the job

Employers in North Carolina have a legal duty to take steps to ensure worker safety. That legal duty isn't negated simply because an employee has to work alone. Employers should recognize that lone workers don't have the benefit of co-workers who can help look out for them.

There are some steps that employers can take to increase the safety of employees who work alone. Employers should train all workers in emergency response so that they have an established plan for dealing with unsafe situations.

Supervisors should periodically review the work of a lone worker by making on-site visits while he or she is on the job. Some of those visits should be unannounced to ensure that the worker is practicing proper safety protocol and following established company practices. Ensuring that lone workers report in after each job or at the end of the shift is also important for safety.

Good communication and frequent contact with employees who work alone can also increase safety. Radio and phone communication are two methods an employer can use to keep in touch with workers. Automatic warning devices to let other employees know if the lone worker hasn't been heard from in a while can also help.

Finally, risk assessments must be done periodically to ensure that the solo worker's daily tasks are still within a safe limit. If the assessment shows that the worker's current job duties are no longer safe, those duties should be altered accordingly.

All workers have the right to expect a safe work environment. Lone workers who suffer from injuries or harm while at work might opt to explore legal options to help cover the expenses of medical care, lost wages and other costs related to an on-the-job injury.

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