Lone Working

Safety guidance relating to lone working on site, factory or office environment

This guidance is intended for all staff for which lone working is part of their activity. Supervisory staff may find the guidance useful when deciding upon risk control measures for lone working engineers as part of their risk assessment process.

Examples of these are:

• Work in the Factory
• Work from an unsecured ladder over 3m high;
• Work in a confined space;
• Opening up, charging or decanting from an ammonia system;
• Isolation/repair of ammonia leaks (except minor leaks)
• Opening up liquid lines on CO2  systems;
• Hot work;
• Usually any type of manual/mechanical work by a person under 18 years of age. 

Supervisors must ensure that any person required working alone:

• Is able to recognise and ensure a safe place of work and will have attended the Passport to safety course;
• Has had adequate training in technical issues, safe working procedures.
• Has adequate equipment so that there is no need for improvisation;
• Is instructed NOT to do any task if they believe it to be outside their competence or if uncertain as to the adequacy of safety arrangements;
• Has clear instructions on how to summon help (e.g. site telephone number);
• Has no known medical condition which may put them at greater risk when working alone (a GP's report may be appropriate. Consider employees with heart problems, epilepsy, diabetes, etc.);
• Has access to adequate first aid (Lone workers on site and in branch workshops carrying out manual work must as a minimum be a trained appointed person and be carrying a first aid kit);
• Has the correct PPE. 

If lone work in isolated places (e.g. roof voids, plant rooms, empty buildings or anywhere out of normal working hours) has to be carried out, suitable precautions must be observed.

• Client or nominated person periodically visiting and observing the engineer;
• Regular contact between lone worker and nominated person (site or office);
• Automatic warning devices which operate if specific signals are not received periodically from the lone worker;
• Other devices designed to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency and which are operated manually or automatically by the absence of activity;
• Checks that a lone worker has returned to their base or home on completion of a task;
• Booking in and out systems supervised by local site management. 

If any of the above precautions lead to an adverse response, emergency procedures must be activated. These may need practicing periodically.

When signing on to a site, a person intending to work alone must advise the site supervision at that time and ensure the relevant precautions selected from the above will be actioned and that checks will be made to ensure the work is completed safely and that the worker has left site.

Site evacuation procedures must include provision for lone workers to be made aware that an evacuation is taking place. This means that the alarm must be audible, and if not, other means must be provided e.g. phone, radio, pager, etc.

Out of hours calls to a new or unfamiliar site must not be accepted unless the client can guarantee accompaniment.

Lone working in an office environment

Clerical work has few inherent hazards so the risk of injury from this type of work is low. Also, the means of summoning help is at hand i.e. telephones. Therefore, the lone worker is unlikely to be at any greater risk than if they were working in a small group.  However, there are still a number of factors that should be considered by supervisory staff:

• Lone workers may feel vulnerable to attack by intruders;
• Any known medical condition which may put an individual at greater risk when working alone (a GP's report may be appropriate. Consider employees with heart problems, epilepsy, diabetes, etc.). 

Suitable precautions must be observed. Supervisory staff will need to decide, and agree the most appropriate measures. These may include one or a combination of the following: 


• Ensuring that no one works alone;
• Ensuring that entrance doors are locked;
• Following GP's advice for those with medical conditions;
• Fitting an Intercom system to the entrance doors;
• Fitting keypad electrically operated locks to entrance doors.
• Ensuring that everyone knows the address of the premises and how to use the phone system in order to summon help;

Ensuring that everyone knows the address of the premises and how to use the phone system in order to summon help;

Last modified: Wednesday, 28 November 2012, 4:03 PM