Introduction

Lone working is not in itself against the law and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider whether there are significant risks posed by lone working and to implement, so far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and sufficient control measures to reduce those risks to a tolerable level. People working alone, especially outside of normal working hours, may be at additional risk because of the potential for increased difficulty in summoning assistance in case of injury or emergency. This risk may be increased if lone workers are carrying out difficult or complex or hazardous tasks or processes where there is an inherent significant risk of injury.

Definitions

Lone workers are people who “work by themselves without close or direct supervision” (The Health and Safety Executive).

Normal working hours are defined in the University’s flexible working policy as normally being between 08:00 and 18:00 hours, Monday to Friday. N.B. This definition does not preclude individual departments setting different working hours where operational needs dictate.

Policy Statement

The University is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for all members of the campus community. As part of this commitment, the University will take reasonable and practicable steps to manage risks associated with lone working. This will include risks to employees carrying out lone working tasks in the course of their employment and to students when carrying out activities associated with their studies in University academic departments. The University aims to achieve this by:

  • Carrying out suitable and sufficient risk assessments of all lone working activities.

  • Implementing control measures identified by risk assessments to reduce risks to the lone worker to a tolerable level.

  • Not allowing any activities to be carried out by lone workers where the risk assessment identifies that there is a significant risk of injury that can only reasonably practicably be controlled by having two or more people in attendance when that activity is performed.

Responsibilities

The Vice-Chancellor (VC) has the overall day to day responsibility for health and safety matters at the University. The VC delegates responsibility for undertaking aspects of these duties through line management and identified roles. The following people are identified as having responsibility for managing lone working issues in those areas, and for those relevant persons, that fall under their control:

Heads of Department / Directors of Professional Services are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Lone working activities are risk assessed and that significant risks to lone workers are identified. Risk assessments will take into account the task or activities that are to be carried out and the capability of the individual to carry out the lone working task safely.

  • Sufficient resources are made available to ensure risks to lone workers are reduced to a tolerable level. This could include providing resources for equipment, training or supervision as necessary.

  • Arrangements are put in place to reduce risks to students who may be required to work alone in their department to a tolerable level.

  • Significant lone working risks to staff or students that cannot be reduced to a tolerable level other than by having two or more people present are not permitted to be carried out as lone work.

Line Managers are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Lone working activities carried out by members of their team are risk assessed in accordance with the University’s risk assessment procedures and that suitable and sufficient control measures are identified and implemented to reduce risks to lone workers to a tolerable level.

  • Risk assessments include consideration of any individual factors that might affect the capability of specific individuals to carry out lone working tasks.

  • Where activities are assessed as posing intolerable risks to lone workers then these are not permitted to be carried out by lone workers.

  • Lone working activities are monitored to ensure that control measures are effective and that risks have been reduced to a tolerable level.

Employees with responsibility for supervising students will ensure that any students under their supervision are not put at unnecessary risk while lone working in their department by taking reasonable steps to ensure that suitable controls are in place.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Cooperating with their line manager by complying with any lone working risk assessments that apply to the work that they will be carrying out.

  • Carrying out, where appropriate, dynamic risk assessments when working alone to ensure that they do not put themselves in a position which may subject them to additional risk when lone working.

  • Report to their line manager anything they consider to be unsafe or likely to lead to ill-health.

Monitoring

University Health and Safety Committee will be responsible for monitoring and reviewing this policy. Reviews will be carried out every two years from the date of approval.

Further Information and Resources

Working Off Site and Personal Safety Resources Health and Safety Executive Lone Working Guidance Suzy Lamplugh Trust – Training and Resources