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On My Own: Health and Safety Considerations for Employees Working Alone

Have employees who work alone? Keep these 4 considerations in mind

You have probably heard the phrase “safety in numbers.” That saying holds true for the workplace as well. But some employees, due to the nature of their role, must work alone. When employees work in isolation, there are unique challenges and increased health and safety risks. If you manage employees who work alone, here are four considerations to keep in mind.

1. Working alone goes beyond being alone

You may not realize how many of your employees actually work alone because the definition is broader than it seems. An employee is working alone when they cannot be seen or heard by another employee. Working alone means that assistance is not readily available in the event of an incident, injury, or other emergency.

This means that working alone includes scenarios where an employee goes for long periods without contact with other workers. Examples would be someone working in an isolated area of a manufacturing plant or a receptionist in a large office building. Employees who work alone tend to be more vulnerable and have an increased risk of workplace violence and harassment.

2. Certain employees are at greater risk

There are five factors that put employees at a higher risk when working alone:

  • Handing cash: Gas station attendants, convenience store clerks, taxi drivers, and other employees who deal with cash have an increased risk of violence or robbery.
  • Travelling away from the workplace to meet customers: Workers are more vulnerable when travelling between destinations. They also have an increased risk of violence when visiting clients. Examples include homecare workers, social service workers, or sales representatives.
  • Completing hazardous work without interacting with others: Working at heights or with hazardous products is particularly risky when working alone. Examples include construction workers, forestry workers, and warehouse workers who may find themselves separated from other team members when an emergency occurs.
  • Travelling without regular interactions with others: Workers such as truck or delivery drivers are at a higher risk of accidents or sudden emergencies.
  • Working at sites isolated from the view of others: Those who work outside of public view or in remote locations could be at risk of attacks or other accidents. This includes security guards, custodians, and night-shift employees.

3. Keep an eye on the season

Summer is here, and for many workplaces, that means employees will be taking vacation. This could leave your workplace short-staffed, with employees working alone longer or more often. At the same time, many students are working summer jobs. Young workers already have a high risk of workplace injuries. In British Columbia alone, over 7,000 young workers were injured on the job in 2021, according to WorkSafeBC. Because the risk can be even higher if they are working alone, it’s important to be diligent about protecting summer workers.

4. Employers need to be proactive about health and safety

Health and safety in the workplace can’t be addressed with a one-size-fits-all solution. To reduce risks and keep your employees safe, you need to determine the hazards specific to working alone in your workplace and provide training to employees. A workplace hazard assessment can help protect the health and safety of your employees.

It’s important to be proactive about putting proper health and safety measures in place. Wondering where to get started? Download our FREE Guide to Protecting Employees Working Alone. This guide, compiled by our HR experts, breaks down what you need to know about providing online training, identifying hazards, and implementing measures that can help keep your employees safe.