Buddy system at work

Buddy system at work

Buddy system at work is a safety protocol to avoid the lone worker risk. A buddy system at work involves pairing up individuals to watch out for each other’s safety and well-being. The system is designed to ensure that no one is left alone in case of an emergency or accident. The buddies are responsible for keeping an eye on each other, and providing assistance if needed. The buddy system at work is an effective way to prevent accidents and promote lone-worker risk solutions.

Buddy System is a work modality in which two or more workers work together helping and supervising each other. From the point of view of occupational risk prevention, this teamwork is essential when carrying out particularly dangerous activities in which a failure in the way of working can lead to serious personal injury to other colleagues.

What is a buddy system at work

The ‘Buddy System’ refers to two people working together as a team, monitoring each other’s behaviour, helping each other, and doing something together. They keep each other safe, and in the event of an accident, a quick rescue request is possible. The buddy system is essential for training, work, and activities that are always risky, such as the military, fire brigade, construction site, rock climbing, and scuba diving, confined space entry, work at height etc.

Buddy system at work
Buddy system at work

Even in the general workplace, establishing a buddy relationship with a colleague who joined a new employee first, enables them to learn to work more quickly and effectively and maximizes adaptation to the new environment and work.

Working alone is part of the day-to-day in many companies, laboratories or factories. In principle, this type of work does not present any impediment, as long as it is possible to carry out the task independently and its performance does not imply an increased risk of accidents or injuries.

Even so, when work is carried out in isolation, compliance with special regulations is required to guarantee health and safety. This includes, among other things, a risk assessment of the work activity in question and the adoption of enhanced safety measures. In this blog, we have covered the risk of the lone worker, the benefits of the buddy system at work and the requirements for their performance to be safe.

Lone worker safety

Working alone is understood as any activity that is carried out without the possibility of establishing visual or auditory contact with other people unless mechanisms such as mobile phones, intercoms, etc. are used. In this sense, many everyday work situations are classified as isolated jobs. The most typical examples are:

  • Assembly or repair work
  • Small maintenance tasks
  • Cleaning work
  • Work in warehouses or waste management
  • Security and surveillance services
  • Driving

Risks derived from lone worker

Contrary to what one might think, accidents at work are not the only risk faced by employees who work alone. Along with safety risks and possible situations of violence that may occur, there are also psychosocial risks closely related to this type of work.

  • Safety risks: they are produced by errors derived from a malfunction of the technical or material elements related to the job. The worker does not have a partner to ask in case of doubt or with whom to compare his work. In addition, if an accident occurs or is in a critical situation, immediate help is not guaranteed because the person is alone and the consequences of this could worsen.
  • Psychosocial risks: being alone and incommunicado can cause imbalances (socio-affective or cognitive) and alter a person’s behaviour. When carrying out routine work without company, a decrease in vigilance can occur and with it, an alteration in the perception of time. In addition to stress problems that can lead the person to make wrong decisions and pathological fatigue and physical load that can lead to a feeling of loneliness and anguish.
  • Situations of violence: isolated work causes a defenceless situation when the employee finds himself in more or less hostile environments. In this sense, they may be subject to insults or threats, but also physical or psychological attacks by people outside the company for which they work.

Lone worker protection

It is recommended that all work considered dangerous be carried out without supervision. Therefore, the first measure consists of making a detailed study of the position and assessing whether doing this work in isolation is necessary. If this is unavoidable, the employer must provide protection measures and systems that guarantee a quick and effective response.

Buddy system at work
Buddy system at work

The determination of these systems and measures is made based on the consequences derived from the risks to which people who work alone are exposed and the maximum time allowed to provide them with first aid. In case of an accident. The aim is to ensure that accidents at work are reported as soon as possible and that the company’s first aid workers can provide assistance in time.

Personal contact should be facilitated. In other words, the person who is working in isolation must be able to get in touch with another so that they can assist them if they are in an anguished or critical situation. There are, therefore, three fundamental aspects that must be taken into account:

  • Control the noise and vibration level so that the person who works alone perceives sounds that must be attended to by them.
  • Avoid visibility problems that can cause mistakes to be made in the work.
  • Control using the necessary devices the risks of fire, explosion or electrical.
  • Safely store materials to prevent them from falling.
  • Prevent workers from falling on slippery or uneven floors and avoid unprotected open spaces.
  • Preventive measures against psychosocial risks.
  • Provide mobile phone with internet to contact easily in case of emergency
  • Establish a buddy system at work

Lone worker solutions

As we have mentioned above, psychological stress can also jeopardize safety. For example, in those cases in which a worker feels overwhelmed because he has to master dangerous situations without the support of other colleagues. In these cases, the correct thing to do would be to employ people with personalities that are not fearful and mentally stable, depending on the activity and work situation.

For prevention, it is advisable, among other things, to offer the worker in isolation sufficient information about the work to be performed, encourage their participation in safety courses to protect them from dangerous situations in the best possible way, the implementation of measures to avoid the appearance of physical and mental loads, etc. The best solution is a buddy system at work should be established.

Preventive measures against violence at work

Many workers in isolation are exposed to attacks by other people, especially when the employee handles valuables (carrying money) or when working with groups of people in difficult conditions (for example, who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol). In these cases, special measures should be implemented, such as courses on how to avoid violent situations, assess the possibility of implementing measures such as blocking entrances, installing video surveillance systems, etc.

In addition, by the provisions of the OSHA regulations on occupational risk prevention, employers have to adopt measures to prevent damage, carry out a risk assessment and aim, in any case, to prevent violence at work. The best solution is a buddy system at work should be established.

Maximum protection under child safety

In American education, the buddy system is used for children’s learning process and safety education. In particular, the buddy system is very useful and plays an important role in safety education focused on young children before their teens. In general, when children go to kindergarten and begin to spend more time outside the home, many parents become less vigilant about parenting, especially children’s safety, and children want to act independently without parental interference.

Buddy system at work
Buddy system at work

In American society, the age at which children begin to judge and pay attention to certain things and have the ability to be alert and cope with dangerous situations is around 12 years old, and until then, the law prohibits children from going alone or at home. Safety is guaranteed as much as possible by law.

For example, it can be worrisome for parents when a child of about 6-7 years of age uses the bathroom alone in a public place when going out with parents of the opposite gender. It’s easy to lose. Various dangers exist everywhere, including the misbehaviour of mentally abnormal adults, threaten the safety of children and make parents unable to relax. Many accidents can be prevented in advance if teachers and parents work together to educate children on why and how to protect themselves.

If you are separated from the person you have designated as your buddy and feel anxious or in danger, shout your buddy’s name out loud to inform them of the danger or help them find each other. If Buddy is a parent, he says it’s more effective to call them by their first names rather than just ‘mom’ or ‘dad’.

In addition, when going to an amusement park, department store, or event venue, set up rules of conduct in advance, such as paying attention to what kind of clothes the staff are wearing, so that the child can ask for help without panicking in case of emergency. It is said that it is desirable to practice at home or in a real place so that you can cope without losing your sense of humour.

Activities that require a buddy system at work

A buddy system at work has become an essential part of company culture. In today’s world, if a company needs to prosper, the first and most important requirement is to have a culture of teamwork within the organization. When all the employees come together and work in sync, we can say that there is less chance of an accident. The activities that require a buddy system at work are:

Confined spaces entry

Work in confined spaces where, in addition to the worker or workers who carry out tasks inside, it is necessary to have continuous external surveillance for special control of the interior atmosphere when appropriate and to ensure the possibility of rescue.

The person who will remain outside must be perfectly instructed to maintain continuous visual contact or by other effective means of communication with the worker occupying the interior space.

Buddy system at work
Buddy system at work

Continuous oral or visual communication systems must be established between the people who work inside and those who are outside, through transmitters-receivers or agreed signals. The person from the outside has the responsibility to act in cases of emergency and notify as soon as they notice something abnormal.

The personnel inside will be subject to a safety rope and harness, from the outside, where adequate restraint and rescue means will be available, as well as respiratory protection equipment for emergencies and first intervention elements against fire if necessary.


In construction we can also find clear examples of a buddy system at work, this is the case, to name a few, of support workers for earthmoving machines, in demolition and home rehabilitation jobs where any mistake could lead to the collapse of structures. These are just a few examples, but there are more activities for which teamwork is a necessity that entails a series of advantages.

Benefits of Buddy System at Work

  1. Increase confidence.
  2. Reduces the stress caused by the activity itself.
  3. Improve personal relationships between colleagues.
  4. Increases compliance with work procedures and standards.
  5. Reduces the risk of accidents.
  6. Decreases the time spent on each task.
  7. As a consequence of the above, productivity increases.
  8. Reduces unsafe acts committed by workers.
  9. Increases compliance with preventive measures.
  10. Decreases the time of action in emergencies.


The function is to collaborate in the performance of the tasks, seeking help and support for the colleague at all times, and always thinking of maintaining the safety and health of both.

So feel free to use some of the indoor activities in outdoor settings and vice versa. Establish a serious buddy system at work activities with some silly games to help encourage better results. And often, fun games have a bigger impact on your business than serious exercises! A buddy system at work is a great way to develop a company’s positive safety culture that makes your employees want to stay.

Buddy system at work
Buddy system at work



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