Occupational group is the factor which is most strongly associated with the risk of assaults at work (Budd, 1999). However, exposure to violence at work not only depends on a person’s occupation but also upon the circumstances and situations under which a person performs their job. Working alone, for example, increases the vulnerability of workers (Chappell & Di Martino, 2000.)
HSE defines a lone worker as:
Someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision Lone workers include those who:
- work from a fixed base, such as one person working alone on a premises (eg, shops, petrol stations etc);
- work separately from others on the same premises (eg security staff) or work outside normal hours;
- work away from a fixed base (eg, maintenance workers, health care workers, environment inspectors);
- work at home (homeworkers); and
- mobile workers (eg, taxi drivers).
The number of people working alone is increasing. As automation spreads in factories and offices, solitary work is becoming more frequent. The growing practice of sub-contracting, outplacement and teleworking also add to the growth of lone working. In addition, the combined push of increased mobility and the development of interactive communication technologies encourage the development of one-person operations. As well as those who work alone for the majority of their working time, there is a greater number of people who work alone part of the time (Chappell & Di Martino, 2000). Lone work does not automatically imply a higher risk of violence, but it is generally understood that working alone does increase the vulnerability of workers. Moreover, this vulnerability will depend on the type of situation in which the lone work is being carried out.