Scope

This policy applies to lone working activities undertaken by employees when carrying out work for the University. This will include work at the University or at other locations.

The policy is not intended to apply generally to workers who are the sole occupiers of an office during normal working hours unless for some reason they are at particular risk when lone working. The policy does not apply to staff when they are “homeworking”; this is addressed in the University’s flexible working policies and procedures.

In the case of undergraduate and post-graduate taught students and students on distance learning programmes, this policy covers only that work or study which it is necessary to carry out within an academic department. Studying alone in one’s accommodation (whether on or off campus) or in other low risk areas of University property, such as the library or in “Student Commons”, is not included within this policy, although the University takes all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of students while they are on University premises.

For health and safety purposes, PGR students undertaking activities related to their research are classified as workers and as such their work-related activities fall within the scope of this policy.

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 or where there is an inherent significant risk of injury. This would also include lone working with individuals or groups whose behaviour may be unpredictable or who are known to be violent or abusive.

The risk of injury when lone working may be increased if the lone worker is new to a task or is inexperienced or has not received appropriate training to dynamically risk assess situations and has the resources and confidence to respond appropriately.

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.

At certain periods throughout the year, such as University closure days, workers may be on site carrying out work tasks that would otherwise be acceptable during normal campus opening. Any tasks carried out during these periods should be risk assessed to ensure that any lone working implications are properly identified and controlled.

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, including any research 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. This applies regardless of where that work is to be carried out.

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 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 that they are responsible for supervising are not put at unnecessary risk while carrying out lone working activities falling within the scope of this policy. They are responsible for ensuring that lone works falling under their control 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.

  • Individual factors that might affect the capability of specific individuals to carry out lone working tasks are considered in those risk assessments and suitable control measures implemented.

  • Where lone working activities are assessed as posing significant and foreseeable risks 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, Workers and Students are responsible for:

  • Cooperating with their line manager / supervisor 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 / supervisor 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.

This policy was last agreed by University Executive Board on 28th April 2020. The Policy will be reviewed at UHSC in June 2022.

Further Information and Resources

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