Lone worker in a forest sawing a tree trunk, protected by the Bosch GuardMe app

Protect lone workers with Bosch GuardMe

Fast assistance when every second counts

Approx. 8.5 million

lone working jobs or activities with a large proportion of lone work in Germany – and approx. 30 million in Europe

Approx. 875,000

occupational accidents every year in Germany, of which 450 are fatal

15 minutes

is the maximum time companies are granted until their lone workers have to receive first aid measures

According to expert estimates one in five employees in Germany works alone, meaning they spend some or all of their time working out of sight and out of earshot of others. Lone workers bear a higher risk of occupational accidents or medical emergencies such as a heart attack going unnoticed. This can have significant consequences, right up to permanent health restrictions in especially serious cases.

Certain activities must not be carried out by lone workers as a matter of principle. Other activities may only be carried out by lone workers if the employer provides suitable technical or organizational precautions.

Lone workers at risk include those carrying out the following activities:

Graphical representation of a futuristic city and surroundings with port to visualize the different places where a lone worker may be working.
Activities with a risk of falling
Handling hazardous substances
Testing of large-scale technical plants
Agriculture and forestry
Working on track beds
Work involving the use of an open flame in areas where there is a risk of fire or explosion
Working in explosive gas atmospheres
Services
Technician working alone in an elevator shaft

Activities with a risk of falling

Activities with a risk of falling can occur in almost any type of job. Even floors, stairs, ladders, platforms, or different terrains can quickly become trip hazards. In particular, working on construction sites and on building facades, working in logistics such as on ships or in container terminals as well as working in elevator shafts poses a significant risk of falling.

Lone worker in a laboratory full of hazardous substances

Handling hazardous substances

The work involved in chemical, physical or medical laboratories can also affect lone workers, who need special protection. Laboratory technicians also work with hazardous substances that present high safety risks such as the risk of fire, explosion, or suffocation. Construction workers can come into contact with materials containing asbestos and people working in printing and paper processing may be exposed to strong solvents.

Testing of large-scale technical plants, for example boiler plants (example of a lone working situation)

Testing of large-scale technical plants

Lone work is required in many large-scale technical plants such as boiler plants, power plants, thermal waste treatment plants, or chemical plants. These have very high potential for explosion and fire damage. Activities involved in putting large-scale technical plants into operation such as pressure tests, leak tests, cleaning work, starting up auxiliary units and the large-scale plants as well as the test run presents a high risk for employees.

Lone worker in a forest felling a tree using a chainsaw

Agriculture and forestry

Forestry work, for example harvesting timber, is one of the most dangerous jobs due to the mostly isolated working environment. If the lone worker has an accident, it must be ensured that assistance can be provided quickly even in remote areas. Additional risks come up when using heavy machinery, fertilizers, or pesticides.

Lone worker using an angle grinder on a track bed

Working on track beds

Lone workers in the area of railway tracks are at particular risk, first and foremost because in some cases they are working while the tracks are in operation. Other potential hazards include moving rolling stock, overhead lines, and possible return currents in tracks.

Lone worker welding

Work involving the use of an open flame in areas where there is a risk of fire or explosion

Work involving the use of an open flame includes using welding, cutting, and soldering equipment as well as unfreezing and hot gluing work. Further danger is posed by metal parts heated to very high temperatures, released gases, leaking pipes, or dripping, glowing metal. Work involving the use of an open flame can be extremely hazardous due to the high temperatures that occur, which can result in fires and even explosions.

The picture shows a refinery plant as an example of a lone working situation

Working in explosive gas atmospheres

Workers in gas plants such as gas pressure regulating and metering stations, compressor plants, LPG plants for the public gas supply as well as gas plants in power plants are particularly at risk. Lone work in refineries or oil rigs represents another hazard due to possible gas explosions or deflagrations.

Cleaner a a lone worker in an office building

Services

Employees of security firms are at risk while on foot and vehicle patrols. The same applies to cleaners, who often clean rooms on their own at night or at the weekend. Although there may be several workers in the building, in some cases they are out of sight and out of earshot of their colleagues. Employees in hospitals or psychiatric wards may also be working alone, for example on a night shift, and at risk as a result.

Technician working alone in an elevator shaft
Activities with a risk of falling
Lone worker in a laboratory full of hazardous substances
Handling hazardous substances
Testing of large-scale technical plants, for example boiler plants (example of a lone working situation)
Testing of large-scale technical plants
Lone worker in a forest felling a tree using a chainsaw
Agriculture and forestry
Lone worker using an angle grinder on a track bed
Working on track beds
Lone worker welding
Work involving the use of an open flame in areas where there is a risk of fire or explosion
The picture shows a refinery plant as an example of a lone working situation
Working in explosive gas atmospheres
Cleaner a a lone worker in an office building
Services

The most frequent occupational hazards:

Slips, trips, falls ("STF hazards")

Incorrect operation of tools or machinery

Incorrect stacking, lifting or carrying

Saving lives: why every minute can make the difference in an emergency

There are situations where lone workers cannot request assistance themselves: they may have fallen, be unconscious, have had a heart attack, or injured themselves on dangerous machinery – minutes or even seconds until first aid arrives can make the difference here. When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival drop a whole 7 to 10 percent each minute. The chances of a successful resuscitation are 75 percent after three minutes, and only 5 percent after ten minutes. It is therefore all the more important to ensure reliable protection and the fastest possible accident detection for lone workers.

DGUV: Responsibility rests with the employer

Under the German Occupational Safety and Health Act and the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions' DGUV Regulation 1, the employer is obliged to ensure the health and safety of their employees at their place of work. If a lone worker is exposed to an increased level of hazard at his or her place of work, employers must provide suitable technical or organizational personal protection measures over and above the general precautions. The most important instrument for doing this is the job hazard analysis. Regardless of whether this is conducted by the employer himself or authorized professionals, the legal responsibility always rests with the employer. The analysis provides information about what technical and organizational measures the employer should put in place. The preconditions under which a personal emergency signal system may be used are contingent on the job hazard analysis of affected employees' activity profiles.

The requirements for personal emergency signal systems, which use public telecommunication networks for data transfer, are specified in the German norm DIN VDE V 0825-11. By applying a lone worker protection solution certified according to this norm, employers can be sure to meet the highest possible safety standards for their lone workers.

Under Section 25 of the accident prevention regulation 'Grundsätze der Prävention (BGV/GUV-V A1)' (Principles of Prevention), the employer must, taking into consideration the specifics of the workplace, ensure that the necessary assistance can be summoned in an emergency and directed to the job site through signaling devices and organizational measures.

DGUV Regulation 112-139 "Use of Personal Emergency Signal Systems"
Click here to go to DGUV Regulation 112-139
Julia Maas looks into the camera, portrait. Product Manager Bosch GuardMe, a solution for lone worker protection

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