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Industrial Lone Worker Safety: Mitigating Risks and Ensuring Worker Protection

Ensure the safety of your industrial employees who work alone. Learn about best practices, and Aware360's solutions for industrial lone worker safety.


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Industrial workers are an important part of the economy. They are involved in production and manufacturing in several industries and a wide range of work environments, such as factories, plants, construction sites, and other industrial environments. However, these jobs often come with the risk of working alone in isolated and unfamiliar environments, facing potential hazards like security risks, health emergencies, and environmental issues. 

At Aware360, we understand the importance of staying connected to your workers through lone worker safety solutions. That’s why we created this guide that examines the challenges involved in keeping industrial lone workers safe and explores best practices for reducing risks and improving safety.

Industrial lone worker industries and examples

Due to the nature of their work, lone workers tend to find themselves at greater risk than the average employee. In fact, according to a recent survey, almost one in five (19%) lone workers reported being involved in an accident and struggling to get help at least one point. 

By breaking lone workers down into industries, it becomes easier to deliver improved safety. Industrial lone workers make up a large part of these lone workers, but in which industries do we find them? Let’s take a look at common roles and settings:

Examples of industries where industrial workers are found:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Oil and gas
  • Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Utilities

Examples of industrial worker roles:

  • Machine operator: Operates production machinery, performs maintenance, and troubleshoots issues
  • Assembler: Fits together components to create finished products
  • Electrician/Technician: Installs and repairs electrical systems
  • Construction worker: Builds roads, bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure

Industrial lone workers are exposed to a range of hazards that can cause serious injury or worse. Thankfully, lone worker safety platforms, such as Aware360’s SafetyAware can provide the solution. However, before integrating a lone worker solution into your safety toolbox, it’s important to fully understand the risks your workers face.

Understanding the risks of industrial lone working

Due to the isolated nature of their work and environment, lone workers are subject to a variety of risks. These hazards include potential medical problems, environmental risks, safety threats, and security issues. We’ve broken these down further, along with some common examples:

  • Safety hazards

It’s normal for lone workers to operate in high-risk environments with a range of equipment. Even when used with the proper training, this equipment and these tools can cause serious injury.

  • Machinery accidents: Forklifts, presses, conveyor belts, and other heavy machinery can all result in fatalities or severe injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 199 deaths were related to machinery incidents in 2022.
  • Electrical risks: High-voltage equipment is a common hazard for industrial lone workers. Exposure to electricity caused 145 workplace fatalities in 2022.
  • Restricted areas: Working in tanks, storage containers, and restricted areas can be dangerous, including a lack of oxygen, accidental falls, and potential exposure to toxic fumes.
  • Environmental hazards

Industrial environments can expose lone workers to extreme conditions and hazardous substances.

  • Exposure to toxins: Harmful chemicals, gases, and particulates can cause immediate or chronic health issues.
  • Extreme temperatures: Working in high temperatures or sub-zero environments increases the risk of heat stress or hypothermia.
  • Noise pollution: Consistent exposure to high-decibel machinery can lead to immediate or progressive hearing loss and even reduce situational awareness.
  • Security risks

Industrial lone workers find themselves in isolated environments, which can lead to increased risk, particularly during night shifts or in remote locations.

  • Violence: Many types of lone workers find themselves confronted by intruders.
  • Theft: Worksites like oil rigs or remote power plants are more susceptible to theft.
  • Trespassing: Unauthorized personnel entering industrial sites can result in dangerous interactions for workers.
  • Health emergencies

Due to their isolated working environment, lone workers often have difficulty accessing help quickly during medical emergencies.

  • Injury and illness: Relatively minor health issues like allergic reactions can escalate to be life-threatening without the right medical attention.
  • Tiredness and fatigue: The physical nature of many tasks can increase the risk of fatigue-related accidents. One solution to this issue is the Aware4Duty assessment app, which provides a way for you to screen the cognitive function of workers.
  • Inadequate communication: This delays emergency responses, which can lead to negative outcomes. At Aware360, our solutions exceed industry uptime requirements with less than one hour of unplanned outage per year.

Understanding these risks is important to improving industrial lone worker safety. Although no worker is ever completely protected, lone worker solutions help organizations streamline operations and, most importantly, save lives. 

 

Best practices for industrial lone worker safety

Establishing an environment that prioritizes employees' safety should be a priority for any workplace. Implementing these recommended best practices can help organizations reduce the dangers workers encounter and promote a safety-first culture.

Pre-work planning and risk assessments:

  • Carry out a lone worker risk assessment: Examine the work environment, job responsibilities, and equipment. This will help spot potential hazards, assess how likely and severe these risks are, and figure out ways to reduce them. For more information on how to conduct your own risk assessment, follow our guide: Lone worker risk assessment guide and template.
  • Ensure clear communication: Keep open lines of communication. Share safety protocols, emergency procedures, and updates on work conditions or risks.
  • Conduct effective training: Offer lone worker training that covers spotting hazards, reducing risks, and responding to emergencies, so workers are able to handle any potential danger.

Communication and monitoring:

  • Safety solutions: Equip personnel with readily available and easy-to-use technology solutions that ensure immediate response. These tools could include lone worker safety solutions such as Aware360’s SafetyAware, protective equipment, lone worker devices, or lone worker alarms.
  • Check-in procedures: Set up a robust check-in system that requires lone workers to regularly communicate with supervisors or colleagues.
  • Reporting procedures: Develop procedures to ensure workers report any safety incidents or concerns. These procedures should be easy to follow and encourage workers to share their own experiences.

Work environment

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Provide lone workers with the appropriate PPE and safety solutions for the jobs at hand.
  • Well-lit and clear work areas: Inspect the workspace to ensure that it is free from obstructions and well-lit. When rapid assistance isn't an option, a safe work environment is particularly important.
  • Ergonomic Practices: Apply ergonomic solutions to minimize physical strain and prevent injuries. This includes adjusting workstations to fit individual needs and training workers on proper ergonomics.

By focusing on these factors, businesses can significantly improve worker safety in the workplace. However, even when following best practices, it is possible to miss something. This is why technology is an important partner in any safety initiative.

How Aware360 can help

Here at Aware360, our industrial lone worker solutions ensure that workers make it home to their families at the end of the work day. Our advanced technology provides real-time monitoring, communication, and effective response systems, all specifically designed to help address these unique challenges.

  • Real-time solutions: To provide people-centric safety, Aware360's patented PeopleIoT connected worker ecosystem. This technology combines real-time data from devices, apps, and sensors.
  • Business-ready: Built as a scalable and flexible platform for connected workers, Aware360 can be integrated with as many systems and devices as needed.
  • Reliability: With a yearly unplanned outage rate of less than one hour, our solutions surpass industry requirements for uptime.

Protect your workforce with Aware360's industrial lone worker safety solutions. Explore our safety devices and learn how these solutions can help you improve safety standards and keep workers safe.

Industrial lone worker safety and Aware360

Lone workers shouldn’t be made to feel alone. These workers keep major industries running smoothly and make up a substantial part of our economy. While their challenges can vary, Aware360 will always be there to help support them.

Together, we can make the workplace safer. 

Meet with our experts and learn how we can support your organization’s safety culture

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