The Law

What is the law on lone working? What are lone working laws?

Lone worker in fear,


Before we can provide the answers you need, we should answer the question: 'What is the lone working meaning?'. The Health and Safety Executive (1998) defines a 'lone worker' as:

“... those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.”

Some people ask ‘Is Lone working illegal in the UK?' The answer is that working alone is not illegal, in itself, or against the law and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider their employees’ working conditions carefully, and then deal with any health and safety risks for those working alone. It is a legal requirement for employers to put in place any appropriate safety measures for any of their employees who work remotely, even if they are not under their direct supervision.

Lone Working Myths

To explode the most popular myth surrounding employers and lone working, an employer’s responsibility to put in the necessary measures to protect workplace health for lone workers extends beyond the physical boundaries of the company’s premises. In other words, even if an employee is working miles away from the company’s offices, the responsibilities of an employer still exist. Consequently, and according to the HSE an employer should provide training, supervision, monitoring and support for lone workers. It is also important for employers to prevent liability of harm befalling their employees.

Here are some examples of lone workers in premises or establishments:

  • A person working alone in a small workshop, petrol station, kiosk or shop
  • People working alone for long periods, e.g in factories, warehouses, leisure centres or fairgrounds.
  • People working on their own outside normal hours, e.g., cleaners and security, maintenance or repair staff 

Here are some examples of lone mobile workers who work away from a fixed base:

  • Workers involved in construction, maintenance and repair, plant installation and cleaning work
  • Agricultural and forestry workers
  • Service workers, including postal staff, social and medical workers, engineers, estate agents, and sales or service representatives visiting domestic and commercial premises.

What are the laws on lone working? Can you legally work alone?

Now we have defined what lone working is, we find there are just two pieces of UK legislation that apply to lone working. So which two pieces of legislation apply to lone working?

  1. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  2. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

These two pieces of legislation cover lone working insofar as these laws make it clear that:

Employers are responsible by law for the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers and any contractors or self-employed people doing work for them. These legal obligations cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone.

What is a lone working risk assessment?

The employer must carry out a risk assessment of lone working activities. If more than 5 people are employed then by law this risk assessment and risks of lone working must be recorded.

What are an employer's responsibilities under UK Lone Working Policies?

The law states that employers must provide a healthy and safe working environment for everybody and that includes lone workers, but organising the health and safety of lone workers can be more challenging than it is for other employees.

What is a lone worker policy?

A lone worker policy is one which is established by the owner or senior management of a company to ensure that all necessary measures relating to safety are in place for an employee who will be working alone, either on site or offsite. The policy will include remedies/solutions to all potential risks identified in the risk assessment.The policy will include recommendations such as: maintaining regular contact with any lone worker, the need to appoint competent people, practical advice, what to do in an emergency situation, the need to assess any existing medical condition that could compromise the lone worker.


Planning Safe Working Arrangements

Issues that need special attention when planning safe working arrangements include:

  • Any specific laws that prohibits lone working for example diving operations, vehicles carrying explosives and fumigation work.
  • Can the identified risks of the job be adequately controlled by one person?
  • Does the worker have any medical condition that means they should not work alone? Have they mental health issues, are they fit enough for any manual handling that may be required.
  • Training, since lone workers are unable to ask for direct help, extra training may be required. There may be additional risks in the environment they work in. These may be not covered in the standard work place training programme or job role.
  • Supervision, how much supervision is required of a lone worker to identify and handle any health and safety issues they encounter.
  • Monitoring, there must be procedures to monitor lone workers because effective means of communication is essential.
  • Illness, accidents and emergencies all need careful consideration for lone workers.

Digital Control Methods

One successful control measure that can be used in high-risk lone worker situations is to provide mobile phones and to use one of the lone worker apps, such as an app provided by

Further help and other sources of advice may be available from your trade association or employer’s organisation, or from trade unions and some charities, e.g the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Suzy Lamplugh was an estate agent and went missing whilst lone working. The charity was set up in her memory and to help people become aware of the dangers of lone working.

For more information on lone working and violence at work. Try our online course that covers the legal issues and some helpful advice. Plus you get a RoSPA certificate and half a CPD point.

This is is a General Health and Safety training course. Safety trainers find it very useful to train relevant staff, employees and lone workers, particularly those that deal face to face with the public and handle cash. Bar workers and anybody involved in enforcing regulations should have lone worker training.

It meets the training requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It also meets the requirements of CHAS, SafeContractor, Construction line, Exor and other SSIP registrations plus HSE safety training requirements.