Working Alone

 

Thanks for joining us.† Todayís topic is staying safe while working alone.

As we know, every job has its hazards. Being exposed to these hazards without anyone around to be your backup makes the hazards all the more dangerous. So, whether you work in a taxicab, a hospital, a gas bar kiosk or by yourself at the front desk of an office tower, it is important to have a plan to ensure everyone can be safe on the job.†

Letís clarify a little bit - it is not always hazardous to work alone, but it can be when other circumstances are present. Whether a situation is a high or low risk will depend on your location, the type of work, whether there is interaction with the public or an exchange of money.† In some cases, it is the consequences of an emergency, accident, or injury that makes working alone more hazardous. This wide variety of circumstances makes it important to assess each situation individually.

Here's a summary of what to look for:

         Determine what the hazards are.† Examine the job thoroughly.† What are the hazards, and what might be an issue if something happens to the worker if there is no one else around.

         Always talk to employee(s) about the tasks they perform.† Listen to their suggestions about how to make the job safer.

         Obviously, the best solution is to not work alone.† If possible, find a way to have at least two people working at the same place, at the same time.

         If someone must work alone, establish a procedure in which the worker regularly checks in with a main contact person from the company.† This should be a formal procedure that ensures the worker gets in touch, either visually or verbally, with the contact person.†† You should establish a back-up contact as well.†

         The workplace also should have an emergency action plan to follow if the lone employee does not check in at the pre-determined time. The plan should consider the circumstances of the job, and be appropriate for both off hours and regular business hours.

         Plan the work that is being done.† For example, schedule higher risk tasks to be done during normal business hours, or when another worker capable of helping in an emergency is present.† High risk activities include tasks such as working at heights, in confined spaces, working with electricity or with hazardous substances, with equipment such as chainsaws, or working with the public where there is a potential for violence.

         And, of course, make sure everyone who works alone has input in to the development of the procedures and that they receive the right training.

As we wrap up this podcast, remember that as you assess the hazards at your workplace, also consider who is doing the job and how much experience they have. You must also factor in how long the person will work alone, and where the site is located.

For more information about working alone and how to stay safe, visit www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers. Thanks for listening everyone.