First Aid for Lone Workers

By Bill, posted
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) defines a lone worker as “Someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision”. It is estimated that there are 8 million lone workers in the UK alone. Working on your own carries specific risks related to accidents and illness. Employers and employees need to be prepared for what actions to take during an emergency situation.


It must be considered that there are different types of lone workers. Someone sitting at home on a computer is in a completely different situation to a person who is working in a remote forest without supervision. However this does not mean that either group does not have its own set of risks. Below are some examples of the different types of lone workers:

Fixed base - Petrol stations, shops, gyms and leisure centres

Outside normal hours - Security staff, cleaners, maintenance workers

Delivery drivers - HGV, Postal and bike couriers 

People who work at home - Office, customer services and small businesses

Agricultural - forestry workers, farmers and fisheries

You are still defined as a lone worker even if you have members of the public around you.


Being a lone worker carries its own specific risks when compared to a person who works as a pair, or within a team. The obvious risk is that there is no one to rely on in a time of need when the lone worker could be injured or incapacitated. Underneath are the main risks a lone worker could face:
  • Not covered by other qualified first aiders
  • May not be able to call the emergency services 
  • Unable to deal with injuries e.g. major / catastrophic bleeding 
The good news is that due to technological advances there are now often innovative ways to help protect lone workers from the above risks.


It is the duty of the employer to protect the lone worker from the risks present within their job role. This does not mean that a person should not work alone, but they will require adequate training and protection. Below are some examples of to how to ensure that a lone worker is safe:
  • Provide suitable equipment e.g. specialist first aid kit
  • Incorporate necessary technology - Apps, panic alarms & battery packs
  • Provide specialist first aid training
  • Create risk assessments to identify hazards & implement control measures
The solution could be as simple as training the workforce to recognise the symptoms of major illnesses e.g. heart attacks and then the action to take next. Or it could be specific training on equipment that will need to be self applied during an emergency.

Several commercial lone worker apps have a panic alarm, fall detection & can provide exact location data.

First Aid Kits

The British Standard (BS8599) generally has all the items needed to deal with most workplace emergencies. However many of the items could be deemed useless when you are trying to apply them to yourself because they are designed to be applied by a first aider. 

One option is to create a risk assessment to identify what type of injuries may occur and then create specific first aid kits based on these requirements. Here are some examples of items that could be very useful during an emergency:
  • Tourniquet - Forestry workers, farmers, etc 
  • Easy to apply dressings - Velcro fastening instead of knots
  • Clothing shears - Sometimes difficult to remove clothing on your own
  • Resuscitation face shield - Helps the lone worker provide CPR to someone else
  • AED - Lone worker may benefit from other members of the public using the AED on themselves 
  • Guidance leaflet / book containing symptoms & treatment of major illnesses 

Trauma dressings typically have velcro fastenings and could replace the wound dressings in the standard BS8599 kit.


Any lone worker can be protected in their job role with adequate planning and preparation. Risk assessments are crucial in identifying the illnesses and injuries that could occur whilst working alone. From here the lone worker can be given the appropriate training and provided with the necessary equipment to deal with a medical emergency.

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