Have you ever worked alone? Many of us worked either alone or separately from a group at least once, twice, or a dozen times. However, how many of us have ever considered the seriousness of a potential incident if it were to take place. Something as simple as a badly sprained ankle could be a big problem if we cannot get help and no one is scheduled to check on us!
Prior to my career in Occupational Health and Safety, I never planned or thought ahead as to what hazards were in front of me or what could potentially go awry. Now it is second nature, whether at work or in my daily life. I try to think of every possible thing that COULD happen or go wrong and what my plan would be if such events occurred.
What is the definition of Working Alone?
How do you know if you are a worker who works alone? Well, there are two main requirements:
Part 28 of the OHS Code considers a worker to be working alone when:
1) a worker is working by themselves
2) in the event of an injury, illness, or emergency, assistance is not readily available to the worker. The three factors to determine if assistance is readily available are awareness, willingness, and timeliness.
What documents are required?
Now that we have established what working alone is, what are documents that are required? There are some obligations that fall upon the employer to ensure worker safety. They are required to:
- complete a hazard assessment identifying current or potential hazards that arise from the worker’s work
- implementation to either eliminate or control the identified hazards to a reasonable level
- ensure employees working alone have an effective way of communicating with individuals who can respond immediately to an emergency, injury, or illness
- keep in contact with the worker at regular intervals
- workers must be competently trained and educated so they can perform their job safely
The Final Word
It is always good practice to be aware and plan ahead. Ask yourself as to what the potential events are that could turn out unfavorably. Then, develop an action plan around each circumstance. Use your resources. Although your employer has mandatory requirements they must uphold, it is ultimately up to you to ensure your own safety. Awareness and knowledge of current and potential hazards are key in the prevention of loss when working alone.