Working alone

WorkSafe BC requires employers to develop written procedures and implement controls to minimize the risk of injury when employees are required to work alone or in isolation.  Our department will assist other UVic departments to determine if working alone procedures are required, how to implement control measures and identify what resources are available on campus.

Risk assessment

To work alone or in isolation means to work in circumstances where assistance would not be readily available to the worker in case of emergency, injury or ill health.

The following criteria will determine whether assistance is readily available, based on a reasonable expectation:

  • Presence of other people in the vicinity
  • Awareness of other people to the employee’s need for assistance
  • Willingness of other people to provide assistance
  • Timeliness of other people to provide assistance.

The level of risk for most groups on campus will generally be considered low. Most departments are engaged in low hazard activities, work in areas where others are usually present, and emergency assistance is readily available through Campus Security 24-hours per day, including First Aid and liaison with local police, fire and ambulance.

However, there will be certain departments that are engaged in moderate to high hazard work activities and where assistance may not be as readily available (e.g. after-hours work, isolated locations, etc.). The following document summarizes the risk profile for campus including recommendations for next steps.

UVic campus risk assessment

Best practices & resources

For any incident requiring first aid, contact Campus Security (CSEC) at 250-721-7599. CSEC officers are trained in occupational first aid and are the designated first aid providers for the UVic campus.

Campus Alone program

Individuals who are working alone after-hours may utilize the services of CSEC’s Campus Alone program by calling 250-721-7599. This program is particularly useful as a check-in strategy for office staff that work evenings, weekends or on a holiday. Please note that Campus Alone is not a substitute for departments who require a Working Alone Plan and is generally not available during regular business hours.

CSEC also provides a SafeWalk service for individuals who would like to have someone escort them to a building, parking lot or any other location on campus. Please contact 250-721-7599 to request this service.

Sign-out/Check-in system

As a best practice, departments should consider implementing a sign-out system for administrative staff that work on campus, but who are required to leave their work area periodically. Although these individuals are not considered to be working alone, it is important that managers and supervisors have a mechanism for tracking the whereabouts of their employees and following up to ensure their well-being.

A similar strategy should also be implemented for employees that leave campus on a short-term basis or are attending an out-of-town business trip (e.g. daily call-in, cell phone contact number, etc.).

OHSE consultants are here to help

OHSE consultants are available to provide advice and answer questions about working alone, as well as assist department managers/supervisors with their Working Alone Plans. Please contact  or 250-721-8971 if you require assistance.

Working Alone Plan

Departments are required to develop and implement a written Working Alone Plan for those activities that fall into a moderate risk category (see Risk assessment) and where employees are directed to work alone.  Although there is no specific format for a Working Alone Plan, it should address the following information:

  • Name of individual or job positions that are required to work alone.
  • Identification of the hazards and risks associated with the work activities and/or the environment where the work is to be performed.
  • Identification of which type of activities may be conducted while working alone, and stating any limitations and/or prohibitions on certain activities.
  • Procedures to control (minimize) the identified risks. This will involve implementing engineering and/or administrative controls (see Control Measures for more information).
  • Methods of communication by which employees can secure emergency assistance and how emergency assistance will be provided in the event of an incident or accident.
  • Establishing the frequency of regular communications and identifying who is responsible for establishing contact.
  • Procedures to follow if contact cannot be established.

The supervisor must review the departmental Working Alone Plan with their employees and ensure that any job-specific training is provided before they are directed to work alone.  The plan should also be reviewed annually and updated for any changes in activities or procedures.

Control measures

Departments are required to implement control measures to eliminate or minimize the risk of injury for those employees who are required to work alone or in isolation. The measures will typically involve a combination of engineering or administrative controls and will focus on enhancing communication systems and supervision.

Managers will need to evaluate their unique work activities and environments to determine which controls should be selected. Some examples are provided below.

Once control measures are implemented it is essential that managers educate and train their employees, ensure that communication and check-in procedures are effective, and review all procedures annually in consultation with employees.

Engineering controls

The physical arrangement, design or alteration of workstations, equipment, materials, production facilities or other aspects of the physical work environment:

  • Communication systems (e.g. cell phones, 2-way radios, intercoms)
  • Location systems (e.g. closed-circuit cameras)
  • Alarms or personal emergency call devices
  • Workstation/area redesign (e.g. line-of-sight and access/egress improvements)

Administrative controls

The provision, use and scheduling of work activities and resources in the workplace, including planning, organizing, staffing and coordinating:

  • Establish a check-in procedure to ensure the well-being of the worker is known
  • Schedule moderately hazardous work during regular business hours so that other people are more likely to be in the vicinity
  • Implement a “buddy system” for certain activities where workers are more isolated
  • Restrict the amount of time young or inexperienced workers are permitted to work alone
  • Increase the frequency of direct supervision for young or inexperienced workers.