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Working Alone


Working Alone - Administrative Practice

This practice applies to all division employees including administrators, support staff (secretaries, technicians, educational assistants, casual employees and others), teachers, security staff, cleaners, caretakers, shop tradesmen, truck, bus and courier drivers and summer students.

Definition of “Working Alone”:

A person is “alone” at work when they are on their own, when they cannot be seen or heard by another person and when they cannot expect a visit from another worker.

Working alone includes all employees who may go for a period of time where they do not have direct contact with a co-worker, for example, evening staff that are separated by one or two floors of a building.

“Working in isolation” means working in circumstances where assistance is not readily available in the event of injury, ill health or emergency, for example, confined space entry.

Identification of Hazards and Risks Associated with Working Alone:

While it is not always hazardous to work alone, it can be when other circumstances are present. Whether a situation is a high or low risk will depend on the location, type of work, interaction with the public or the consequences of an emergency, accident, injury, etc. This wide variety of circumstances makes it important to assess each situation individually.

High Risk Activities - are those activities where the potential for accidents or injuries is deemed to be highly likely. High risk activities involve the following:

  • working at heights (e.g. on the roof);
  • work in confined spaces (such as crawl spaces, tanks, ducts, vents, etc.);
  • work with electricity – lock out;
  • work with hazardous substances or materials;
  • work with hazardous equipment (such as chainsaws, unguarded equipment, etc.);
  • work with materials under pressure; or
  • others that may be identified by staff.

Other Areas of Concern – are those activities where although the potential for accidents or injuries is deemed to be highly likely, the incidents are unpredictable and need to be thoroughly thought through. These activities include:

  • staff with pre-existing medical conditions who are at an increased risk of sudden or severe illness and injury when working on the job site, inside buildings or on school grounds;
  • exposure to threats of violence or violent acts perpetrated by the public who may be in schools for legitimate school functions, permits or unauthorized intruders who are able to gain access to school buildings.

Low Risk Activities – are those activities where the potential for the occurrence of accidents and injuries is deemed to be highly unlikely and where the severity of the incident is generally thought not to have serious consequences.

Performing a Working Alone Hazard Assessment:

Supervisors and workers are required to assess the conditions or circumstances under which an employee may be working alone to determine the risks, the level of risk and the prevention measures required to reduce those identified risks to an acceptable level. The following are some points to consider when performing a hazard assessment. Each circumstance will be different:

  • Length of time the person will be working alone;
  • Communication - what forms of communication are available? Verbal, in person, radio, phone, etc.?
  • Location of the work - is it in a remote or isolated location?
  • Type or nature of work - includes adequate training, PPE, machinery or tools involved, high risk work, fatigue, temperature, tasks and hazards of the work, etc.;
  • Characteristics required by the individual who is working alone - including any pre-existing medical conditions, training, first aid, etc.

In order for the working alone procedures to be effective they must be implemented with reason and diligence. To achieve this, respective responsibilities have been defined to ensure those who can positively impact on the potential risks of working alone are aware of their responsibilities and have the knowledge and skill to effectively implement working alone guidelines.

For more information on the Pembina Trails working alone administrative practice, please see the link below:

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