Lone workers encounter difficult circumstances regularly in the healthcare industry. They frequently enter patient homes or consulting spaces alone, work late, and handle delicate or emotionally draining circumstances. Between their houses and appointments, they also spend some time traveling alone.
The US Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that from 2019 to 2029, employment in healthcare occupations is predicted to rise 15%, substantially faster than the average for all occupations, generating almost 2.4 million new jobs. This means the number of lone workers in the healthcare industry is increasing, and prioritizing their safety is super important.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 18 million healthcare professionals are working in the country. Workers are more likely to work alone as the healthcare sector digitizes and experiences workforce losses.
Additionally, home health professionals frequently travel alone and treat lone patients. Risks faced by lone healthcare professionals include aggressive patients, trips and falls, identity and property thefts, and live attackers.
Due to the high percentage of lone workers in the healthcare sector, doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals are usually at elevated social and environmental danger.
There are awful circumstances where patients, visiting friends, relatives, and even onlookers feel upset and act aggressively toward medical professionals. This can happen anywhere, in a public hospital, medical clinic, or at-home care.
Working alone has certain apparent risks, one of which is how difficult it is to ask for assistance in an emergency. Healthcare personnel working alone who have chronic illnesses are more vulnerable. Lonely traveling nurses, doctors, and allied health therapists may be exposed to various risks particular to the healthcare sector. Some of the risks are mentioned below.
Accidents can occur due to continuous exposure to radiation and chemicals, including poisonous substances, cleaning products, and sterilizing agents.
Numerous lone employees must deal with dangerous environmental circumstances, like intense heat and cold, working near water or underground, and even coming into contact with wild animals. Working alone makes it more likely that accidents go unreported and result in severe aftereffects.
Healthcare personnel working in in-home and community care settings face more significant risks of violence because they frequently work alone in these settings and lack training to de-escalate violence.
The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) conducted a survey that found that up to 61 percent of home care nurses had dealt with workplace violence. Patients with compromised mental health are often the greatest threat to lone healthcare workers.
A lone worker may experience a heart attack, stroke, or a severe allergic reaction in addition to on-the-job injuries. Receiving fast assistance and calling for help could be challenging if a lone worker experiences a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or fainting.
Additionally, biological risks from bodily fluids, viral illnesses, and blood-borne infections may cause medical emergencies.
Healthcare workers who work alone must have the best equipment and techniques available to guarantee their safety at all times. Here is what employers in the healthcare industry need to consider to ensure safety of lone workers:
Always evaluate the risks associated with high-risk activities since some jobs may be too risky or complex to be done by one person. For instance, a person can need prompt assistance from a second person if a chemical from a medical drug contacts their eye.
Don’t take a chance and arrange for assistance or supervision if the risk assessment finds that the work cannot be done safely by a lone worker.
Create emergency plans for any foreseeable crisis, such as equipment failure, fire, work-related accidents, sudden illnesses, and physical aggression from general patients or intruders. Provide instruction on these protocols so that lone employees and those in charge of keeping an eye on them know how to react appropriately in each situation.
For personnel to understand the hazards associated with working alone, how to protect oneself, and how to react to reasonably foreseeable circumstances, provide personal safety awareness training, including training on dealing with violence and hostility. Additionally, line managers must receive training on efficient team monitoring and assistance methods.
To minimize any dangers to worker safety, it is a dependable plan to use any instruments and technologies that can help the worker in an emergency. If local law enforcement has maps of the region that reflect past levels of crime and violence, the community healthcare professional and their management can be sufficiently prepared. Preferable alternatives include a voice activation feature on the identification badge or a panic button called a lone worker safety device.
Lone worker safety devices are covert, undetectable tools, apps, or services that enable communication with employers or emergency services in more dire circumstances. Devices for lone workers are made to keep them safe while performing their jobs and keep an eye on their well-being when they are alone at work.
Silent Beacon’s panic button is a lone worker safety device that includes many useful features to safeguard community workers. This lone-worker safety solution has been protecting lone workers while they carry out their various jobs throughout the world for several years now.
Our tried-and-tested lone worker solution and safety software mitigate various safety hazards that kill or hurt countless lone workers every year, protecting workers from danger and other risks. The button worn on or beneath clothes may be pushed to record incidents and summon assistance without requiring users to touch their phones.
The safety of healthcare professionals ought to be a top priority for hospitals. Before any healthcare staff member is permitted to work alone, a thorough Lone Worker Risk Assessment should be conducted to assure their safety.
Organizations that provide health and social care should ensure their lone-worker policies are up-to-date. Finally, lone healthcare professionals should always have personal safety devices to report accidents or crises and get prompt help.