Source: Towergate Insurance
One of our trusted partners, Towergate Insurance, offer specialist home care insurance and have shared their guidance on the home care employers duty of care for lone workers, which we think our home care members may find useful. Please read below for the full article from Towergate Insurance.
Helping people within their own environment, domiciliary care workers often work alone. Without a clear understanding of the law, the hazards and what preventative measures should be taken, employers leave their people open to risk and themselves exposed to employers’ liability claims.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, employers have a common law duty to take reasonable care of their employees whilst carrying out their employment duties. This includes providing proper working systems, suitable materials, competent colleagues and adequate supervision.
For homecare workers it is imperative to understand fully the risks and precautions involved in every situation. While they have a responsibility for taking reasonable care of themselves and cooperating with their employers in meeting legal obligations, it’s the employer’s legal duty to assess possible risks and take measures to avoid or control them.
A case in point
Briefed to get the client out of bed and dressed, a home care practitioner found the person they were supporting was unable to move with only prompting from the care practitioner and the bedroom small with little room to manoeuvre. Once up, the individual was unable to walk independently resulting in a back injury to the care practitioner, and an accident report was completed the following day. The care practitioner alleged fault with their employer because the risk posed by manual handling operations had not been identified and no equipment or steps to minimise or remove that risk were in place. This left the employer in breach of Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 4 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, and potentially non- compliant with care regulatory requirements.
Your risk assessment
Managing the safety of your employees while also taking into account the needs of the person being supported is a fine balance, so involving your staff in your risk assessment is good practice. In this way, you can both more easily ascertain risks and put suitable measures and systems in place, including training, instruction, support, supervision, and the issue of protective equipment, such as the lifting apparatus needed in our case study.
Lone workers cannot easily liaise with colleagues, so as well as normal health and safety concerns, they are more vulnerable to other hazards, including:
- Driving in dangerous conditions and rural or high-crime areas
- Lifting people or manually handling heavy objects
- Slips, trips and falls
- Aggressive animals
- Violence and abuse from service users and their families
- Passive smoking
- Exposure to household chemicals or dangerous substances
It is also important for an employer to be aware of any enhanced risk to particular staff, for example young or inexperienced workers, pregnant women, and those with health issues such as diabetes or epilepsy.
To help protect employees, once your risk assessment is complete, it should be reviewed at least annually, and whenever there has been significant change in working practice.
Before an employee works alone, they should be adequately trained to understand the risks involved and safety measures adopted. Further, they should be sufficiently competent in dealing with circumstances that are new, unusual or beyond the scope of training, knowing when to seek advice and how to handle aggression.
Although lone workers cannot be subject to constant supervision, the extent of supervision depends on the risks involved and the ability of the worker to identify and handle health and safety issues. Employees new to a job, or to the situation in which they will be working, may be more at risk, so may require more supervision initially*.
The level of supervision required is a management decision, based on the findings of the risk assessment, and should not be left to the employee’s discretion.
Safekeeping lone workers, protecting business
Many measures can be put into place to help ensure the safety of lone workers. From periodically accompanying employees working alone, regular phone, radio or email contact ensuring clear communication especially in emergency situations, through to automatic warning signals if planned contact is not made and checks to ensure the care worker has returned to their base upon task completion.
Establishing clear best practice procedures, including risk assessments, can help reduce the chances of incidents occurring, protecting employees and those placing themselves in your care, and safeguarding your business from costly employers’ liability claims.
Towergate Insurance has been providing specialist broking services to the caring sector for more than 30 years. We protect homecare businesses, employees and service users with specifically designed policies and are the preferred insurance partner of the HCPA.
For more information contact our home care specialists on 0330 123 5172 or go to www.towergateinsurance.co.uk
Towergate Insurance is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited. Registered Office: Towergate House, Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3EN. Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
*HCPA can provide bespoke Lone Working Training if you need support in this area. This is not fully funded and does incur a cost. If you are interested to learn more about this bespoke training please email email@example.com.