Human Resources Policies
Working Alone Safely
Policy for Working Alone Safely

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Policy Statement

The City of Toronto will provide a safe work environment for its employees. In doing so, the City will take all reasonable and practical measures to eliminate or minimize injury or incident risks associated with the nature of the work performed when employees work alone. The intent of this policy is to protect workers who are working alone and to enable them to summon immediate assistance in the event of an emergency. Potential violence hazards that exist for employees who work alone are addressed in the Workplace Violence policy.


Application

This policy applies to all City of Toronto employees.

Definition

Working Alone:

to work alone at any time in the shift where assistance is not readily available from a co-worker or expected from a member of the public when needed in the normal course of duties or in the event of an injury, illness or emergency


Responsibilities

Management Staff of Divisions will:

  • Communicate this policy and its procedures to employees who work alone
  • Conduct a hazard assessment to identify existing or potential hazards related to the nature of the work or the work environment given the circumstances of the work when working alone
  • Take all reasonable and practical steps to minimize or eliminate identified injury or incident risks
  • In cases where hazards are identified, establish an effective means of communication between the employee and persons capable of responding to the employee’s needs
  • Identify, document and communicate any work operations that are not to be performed by employees who are working alone (see Appendix A for examples)
  • Consult with JHSCs in conducting hazard assessments, investigating incidents and developing practical steps to minimize or eliminate identified risks. (Examples of potential steps to minimize or eliminate identified risks are provided in Appendix B)
  • Conduct further hazard assessments at intervals of time appropriate to the changing conditions and circumstances of the worker’s job (e.g., changes in work organization, physical environment or equipment and tools)
  • Annually review the effectiveness of the hazard controls and procedures and make improvements as required

People, Equity & Human Rights (PEHR) Health and Safety Consultants will:

  • Assist management staff to implement this policy and develop divisional procedures
  • Regularly review this policy and recommentd revisions, if needed

Joint Health and Safety Committees will:

  • Review hazard assessment results and provide recommendations to management to reduce and minimize the injury or incident risks
  • Participate in critical injury investigations, review injury/accident and incident reports, and recommend corrective measures
  • Respond to employee concerns related to working alone and communicate these to management

All employees will:

  • Advise their supervisors/managers of any hazards of working alone that may require additional assessment
  • Maintain a safe work environment and take every reasonable precaution when working alone

Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee will:

  • Review annually the effectiveness of the policy and guidelines and make changes as required by consulting with management staff and employee representatives

Appendix A

Circumstances in which working alone or in isolation is not to be permitted

  1. Confined space entry
  2. Working on energized electrical conductor or equipment that has a voltage of more than 750 volts
  3. Operating equipment near a live power line where a part of the equipment could come into contact with a power line
  4. Operating cranes, mobile equipment or similar material-handling equipment where the operator does not have the full view of the intended path of travel
  5. Work requiring the use of fall arrest equipment and scaffolds
  6. Working with quick-acting, acutely toxic material
  7. Work which presents a risk of drowning, unless equipped with a personal floatation device
  8. Welding operation where a fire watcher is required
  9. Tasks which, based on the hazard assessment conducted by the division, in consultation with the JHSC, are deemed to require more than one person

Note: This list is intended to provide examples and is not to be considered all inclusive.


Appendix B

Potential steps to minimize or eliminate identified working alone risks

  1. Providing internal and external numbers for workers to call for assistance
  2. Provision of an effective means of communication (e.g. cell phones, radios, pagers)
  3. Establishment of an effective contact system, (check in procedures, periodic site visits), with the frequency of contact determined based on the hazard assessment
  4. Establishment of code words indicating that assistance is needed
  5. Introduction of security systems such as personal alarms, fixed alarms connected to security services or regular security patrols
  6. Development and implementation of procedures for opening, closing or securing the workplace prior to starting and when ending shifts
  7. Documentation and communication of when working alone is permitted or prohibited
  8. Scheduling potentially hazardous work for times when appropriate assistance is available
  9. Provide buddy system for hazardous tasks performed at off-hours or remote locations

Note: This list is intended to provide examples and is not to be considered all inclusive.


Authorities

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario (R.S.O. 1990, c. 0.1)
  • City of Toronto Corporate Occupational Health and Safety Policy (1999)


Endorsed by

  • Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), October 30, 2001
  • Reviewed and re-approved by OHSCC, February 28, 2012 & September 27, 2016

Approved by

Executive Management Team, February 18, 2002

Date Approved

February 18, 2002

Reviewed & Revised by OHSCC

September 27, 2016


Related links - external

  • Corporate Occupational Health and Safety Policy
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Workplace Violence Policy

Attachments

Appendices A & B.pdf (38 Kbytes)

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