Protecting those who work alone

The Canadian Government is taking steps to raise awareness of the hazards of
working alone to help protect those who do. The government's recently released
document "Working Alone, Safely Guidelines for Employers and Employees”, offers
thorough guidelines that spell out the many different hazards that put lone
workers at risk and the steps that can be taken by both worker and employer to
help ensure their safety.

Working alone is a common reality for many - from convenience store clerks, to
truck drivers to an isolated receptionist in a large, busy office building.
Research has shown that workers in the following industries are at the greatest
risk of robbery and workplace assault:

  • Liquor stores
  • Gasoline service stations
  • Jewelry stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Eating and drinking places
  • Taxis

In all cases, employers are encouraged to reduce the risk, by reducing alone
time, when possible, through schedules and procedures. A number of other steps
can be taken to improve worker safety. Among them:

  • Assess the hazards of the workplace.
  • Investigate incidents at the workplace, and those from similar workplaces.
  • Take corrective action to prevent or minimize the potential risks of
    working alone (e.g. implement cash handling procedures to reduce the amount of
    cash on hand).
  • Provide appropriate training and education.
  • Report all situations, incidents or "near misses" where working alone
    increased the severity of the situation. Analyze this information and make
    changes to company policy where necessary.
  • Establish ways to account for people (visually or verbally) while they are
    working. Establish formal check-in procedures and follow them.
  • For most lone workers, the telephone will be the main source of contact.
    Have a telephone close by. Use alternative means when a landline telephone is
    not available.
    Ensure that a qualified person will respond immediately to signs of distress.
  • Encourage employees to request assistance from police or security services
    if they feel unsafe.
  • Schedule high-risk tasks during normal business hours, or when another
    worker is capable of helping if an emergency situation arises.
  • Position workers, where possible, in locations of highest visibility.
  • Allow the use of a "buddy system" in high-risk situations.
  • Where appropriate, use a security system such as video surveillance
    cameras, and mirrors. Ensure that informed consent is obtained from employees
    prior to use.

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)