Lone working represents a situation where a person has neither visual nor audible communication with someone else who can summon assistance in the event of an accident, illness or other emergency. Lone working can, therefore, include those work activities undertaken both:
Lone working is common practice in most organisations, especially in research environments such as this, where it is often difficult to confine work activities to 'normal working hours'. However, the Department recognises the importance of ensuring that all lone working activities are managed appropriately to minimise risk. The safety of workers must always be carefully considered in these situations, since other colleagues are unlikely to be present to assist in an emergency. Such emergencies may arise due to fire, accidents and unauthorised intruders.
The Department applies a risk based approach for managing lone working activities, consistent with the University's 'Lone Working' policy (PDF).
Lone working activities should be restricted, where possible, to activities presenting a low risk even if control measures fail. For example, persons working alone in offices outside normal working hours are unlikely to be at significant risk provided that appropriate fire and security precautions are in place. Indeed, there is no evidence that this type of lone working activity presents an unacceptable risk requiring special monitoring arrangements, any more than many other activities that individuals undertake alone outside work. It is also acceptable for low risk laboratory activities to be performed by a lone worker provided the person performing the task is:
There are occasions when it is not appropriate for activities to be performed by lone workers unless special arrangements involving help or back up are introduced. Special arrangements must be considered for all activities where it is judged that the risk cannot be adequately controlled by one person. A formal Lone working risk assessment (MS Word , 43kb) is required for these higher risk lone working activities, including a description of arrangements needed to ensure the work can be carried out safely.
Lone working must not be undertaken where there is a reasonably foreseeable risk that the work might result in an accident which would be sufficiently serious to require a second person to be available to summon help. Those tasks that are considered unacceptable for a lone worker to perform under any circumstances must be documented in the Lone working risk assessment (MS Word , 43kb) and displayed in the Safety File or 'Local Rule' of each group.
Lone working activities are often inappropriate for certain individuals or groups of workers, for example, individuals with a known medical condition, and those with limited experience or training. For this reason, both Undergraduate and Masters Research project students require formal written permission from their supervisors before low risk out-of-hours work is allowed. It is equally important to note that supervisors of all workers (for example PhD students) are satisfied that an individual has reached an appropriate level of competence before independent work, including lone working, is allowed.
It is the responsibility of the Group Leader / Manager of each group to: