OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
Why is working late a problem?
While it is not always hazardous to work late or outside of regular business hours, it can mean you are working alone and/or that you are traveling to or from work after dark. Geographic areas that are bustling with activity and considered very safe during daylight hours can take on an entirely different feel when the workday ends or after dark. Whether a situation is a high or low risk will depend on your location, the type of work you do, whether or not you interact with the public, and the consequences of an emergency, accident, injury, etc. This wide variety of circumstances makes it important to assess each situation individually.
In many situations, when you are working late, you are working alone -- or the risks and solutions are similar to when you are working alone. The following OSH Answer documents on Working Alone offer more information:
- Working Alone - General
- Working Alone - Handling Money
- Working Alone - Off-site
- Working Alone - Working With Patients
What are some procedures to follow to help keep me safe if I am working late?
- Always let a friend, family member or security guard know you are working late and when you expect to leave.
- Check-in procedures. See Working Alone - General for a checklist and more information.
- Use the "buddy system". Arrange to work late on the same night as a friend or colleague.
- Plan ahead and think about which areas are safe where you can retreat to and/or call for help.
- Before it is dark outside, move your car to a well-lit area that is close to your building or a parking lot attendant.
- Before your co-workers leave, check that all the doors and windows are locked and make sure nobody is in the washrooms and storage rooms.
- If you enter a room and suspect that someone might be inside, do not call out. Back out quietly and go to a safe area with a lockable door. Call for help.
- If you encounter someone you don't know, indicate that you are not alone. Say "my supervisor will be right here and will be able to help you".
- If you suspect someone is lurking outside, call the police or security officers.
- Ask your employer to consider providing safe transportation home or to parking areas after hours. Consider designating parking spots that are close to the building and well lit for those who work after hours.
- Be aware of the services offered by your local transit company for after-hours commuters (e.g., they may have a "request stop" service that allows commuters to get off anywhere along the route after dark, rather than at a designated stop).
Document confirmed current on October 2, 2014
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