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Appendix A9.11

Working alone

1. Policy statement

We recognise that in certain circumstances lone working is unavoidable and that we have a duty to assess and reduce the risks which lone working presents. We also accept the importance of the following in relation to lone working:

  • Auditable and sufficient risk assessments
  • Clear and robust management procedures that address potential risks and deal with incidents if they occur
  • Everyone accepting responsibility for, and supporting the need to operate, systems, procedures and technology provided for their enhanced protection
  • Sharing of information from within and outside the BBSRC on identified and potential risks
  • The introduction and implementation of relevant and effective physical and technological systems and devices
  • The provision of good quality training, whether that is to help staff to prevent and manage situations, or to use procedures, systems or devices provided for their security and safety, to their best effect
  • Take into account the health and medical condition of any lone worker

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2. Definition

In operating this policy we define “lone working” as:

“Any situation or location in which someone works without a colleague nearby; or when someone is working out of sight or earshot of another colleague.”

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3. Restrictions

Lone working is prohibited in some work situations and activities, as there are a number of Health and Safety regulations which set out specific requirements for supervision, assistance or accompanied working if:

  • Hazardous work is carried out
  • Particular categories of workers, such as young or inexperienced workers are carrying out activities that require direct supervision

These activities include:

  • Work with certain chemicals
  • Hazardous electrical work
  • Some manual handling activities
  • Erection of scaffolding
  • Use of unsupported temporary access equipment
  • Work in confined spaces

In addition to this, each site may have specific rules and restrictions which you must note and follow.

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4. Organisation and responsibilities

4.1 Institute Directors

You have overall responsibility for all matters of health and safety including lone working. You need to ensure mechanisms are in place at your site for the overall implementation and monitoring of this policy.

4.2 Line Managers

It is your responsibility to:

  • Disseminate and implement this policy within your area of responsibility
  • Identify individuals who are lone workers
  • Ensure that risk assessments on lone workers are being carried out and are regularly reviewed
  • Ensure that any actions which are required as a result of the risk assessments are implemented
  • Ensure that procedures are in place so that you are aware of the whereabouts of lone workers
  • Ensure that individuals are given time off to attend essential training relating to lone working and personal safety
  • Ensure that any reports of incidents or accidents are investigated and, where necessary, action taken
  • Ensure that appropriate support is given to staff following an incident

4.3 Lone workers (including employees, students, contractors, etc).

You are responsible for:

  • Co-operate by following rules and procedures designed to protect your safety as a lone worker
  • Complete any documentation required
  • Provide information on your whereabouts during working hours to a supervisor/manager
  • Where indicated, use technology provided for your safety e.g. mobile phones or lone worker alarm devices
  • Attend lone worker or personal safety related training programmes as directed by your manager
  • Report all incidents related to lone working

4.4 Health and Safety advisers

It is your responsibility for:

  • Producing local procedures and guidelines as necessary, this may be included in other documents such as local transport policies
  • Providing assistance and training to individuals in undertaking risk assessments in lone working
  • Providing advice to managers in implementing risk reduction measures
  • Ensuring that all incidents related to lone working are recorded and appropriately investigated

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5. Health and Safety arrangements

5.1 Local arrangements

Each site will assess the risks of working alone carried out under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and will confirm whether the work can actually be done safely by one unaccompanied person. Particular consideration will be given to:

  • The remoteness or isolation of workplaces
  • Any problems of communication
  • The possibility of interference, such as violence or criminal activity from other persons
  • The nature of injury or damage to health and anticipated "worst case" scenario

5.2 Information and training

Each site will ensure that you are provided with all necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to enable you to recognise the hazards and appreciate the risks involved with working alone.

5.3 Permits to work

In certain circumstances, particularly when the risks are considered high or where specific legal requirements exist, some or all of the above procedures may be contained in a written permit to work, without which the activity may not take place. Copies of permits will normally be issued to everyone directly involved with the activity, e.g. the solitary worker, the closest supervisor and the relevant manager. Where time limits are a consideration, e.g. to control exposure to heat, fatigue or to ensure essential supplies such as breathing gases are not exhausted, the permit would state required starting and finishing times or maximum duration of the task.

5.4 Review and audit

Each site will carry out regular inspections and/or audits to help identify opportunities for improvement, develop action plans and share good practice. The following performance indicators are examples of what may be used to audit the effectiveness of this policy:

  • Risk assessments are completed for situations in which staff work alone
  • Control measures produced from the risk assessment process are regularly reviewed
  • Incident reports and investigations are appropriately actioned
  • Records are maintained of any training undertaken
  • Any equipment provided and used to support the lone worker system is evaluated

The implementation of this policy will be monitored through the Joint Health and Safety Committee.

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6. Related policies and procedures

This policy should be read in conjunction with:

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Last updated 17/11/10
Amendment 110 - November 2010