A simple equation – the more frequently you place your employees in lone working situations, the more likely they are to be exposed to risk. This could well necessitate you having to deal with the practical and financial consequences of accidents, verbal and physical abuse and staff absenteeism.
Can you afford not to protect your lone workers? The Health and Safety Executive estimate the cost of a single physical assault to an organisation to be in excess of £20,000. Compare this to the cost of implementing an effective training and lone worker safety solution, which costs little more than 50p a day and ask your self…why haven’t you invested earlier?
Lone worker absenteeism can occur for a variety of reasons ranging from stress resulting from verbal abuse, injury following incidents of physical assault to ‘man-down’ incidents, which result from slips, trips and falls.
Organisation will feel the cost of staff absenteeism in a variety of ways:
• Management time – reporting on and investigating incidents is costly
• Providing temporary staffing – agency staffing can be costly
• Increased workload for the rest of the staff to provide cover – the cost is possible stress and low morale
• Poor customer service resulting from personnel who are over-worked and unmotivated.
Ultimately staff absenteeism leads to poor productivity, dissatisfied customers, lost orders and reduced revenue. So any business that tackles their lone workers personal safety risks is effectively tackling staff absence and will reap substantial financial and social rewards by increasing productivity and raising staff morale.
In addition, should an employee leave because of an incident associated with them working alone, the cost of replacing that employee is at least £5,000 for advertising and basic recruitment costs plus an amount approximately equivalent to the employee’s annual salary while that person gets to grips with the job, learns procedures, makes contacts, builds networks, etc. Some estimates put the induction and retraining cost at three times annual salary.
Leaving money to one side for a moment, the need to protect lone workers is an important step towards meeting your organisation’s moral and legal duty of care. Aside from protecting lone workers, simply by doing ‘the right thing to do’, employers are reducing the various costs and potential risks to their employees and the organisation. There is also the risk of reputational brand damage from the negative PR that can arise from an incident. Brand impact and negative shareholder reactions are becoming more recognised as more employers appoint risk managers.
As well as staff absenteeism, there are employee insurance liability costs, and fines imposed as a result of breaches in Health and Safety legislation. According to leading insurers, if they are not satisfied that you, as an employer, have proactively taken steps to provide your lone workers with appropriate safety solutions, the costs of employee liability insurance will rise and in addition, your insurer may alter their terms of cover, or even refuse to provide cover at all. More costly management time spent on identifying an alternative insurer and of course the premium will be higher.
Litigation For Personal Injuries Claims:
In addition, organisations who do not provide adequate lone worker safety solutions run the risk of prosecution under corporate manslaughter legislation. Aside from the significant reputational damage this could cause to an organisation, the financial penalties are likely to be high. The prosecuting court decides the fine to be handed down to an organisation found guilty of corporate manslaughter. It is perhaps no surprise that fines are expected to be deliberately high and they won’t be linked to the size or profitability of the organisation, they will be linked to the severity of the breach of legislation.
Add to this the costs of defending litigation from ‘at risk’ lone workers, including damages payable – that is going to be quite a high price tag.
Even when staff are not physically harmed, repeated occurrences of swearing, threats, racial abuse and other forms of verbal abuse can lead to depression, stress, reduced morale, absenteeism, retention problems and reduced productivity. Employees who had been victims of verbal abuse have stated that they have suffered a range of symptoms including crying spells, feelings of unworthiness, lack of direction and motivation, fatigue, irritability, difficulty in sleeping and eating disorders.
• A County Court action (eg personal injury where the claim is up to £50,000) will cost at least £50,000 and usually takes at least 3 years for the case to be heard.
• A High Court action (eg personal injury where the claim is over £50,000) will cost at least £100,000 and perhaps in excess of £1,000,000, and usually takes at least 5 years for the case to be heard.
• While legal action is in progress, everybody involved is being diverted from the job they were originally recruited to do.
Continuous evaluation and development of best practice strategies and equipment are the most important elements in reducing risks for lone workers. Police crime prevention officers, local authorities and sector/industry bodies should all be able to provide advice
Consider the costs that result from the following:
• Staff absence
• Defending litigation
• Time spent reporting and investigating incidents
• Escalating employee liability insurance costs for ‘at risk’ workers
• Risk from corporate manslaughter legislation
• Costs of replacing staff
• Reputational brand damage
Now consider how much you can save on these costs by implementing appropriate policy, training and safety solutions for your lone workers. In short, protects yourself, your organisation and your lone workers…it makes financial sense.