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Date PostedOctober 31, 2012

Danger of Solitary Work

Source : Abhishek Srivastava

Working alone or in a remote location can present its hazards, for any industry and even more so for risky industries like construction.  Working alone can increase the likelihood of some workplace hazards or risks occurring and when accidents do occur, chances are you won’t get help in time because there is no one to call for emergency services. The consequences of incidents are therefore more severe for people who work alone.

It is vital that people who work alone have effective means of communication at their disposal at all times. That includes mobiles phones, emergency beacons or 2 way radios.

Employers should also ensure that there is a procedure for regular contact with the isolated worker throughout the day and at the end of each day to confirm that the worker is safe.

An emergency procedure should be designed and the worker educated in what to do in an emergency including what action to take in the event that contact cannot be made with the isolated worker.

Planning is needed to control the risks involved with working alone. This risk management process should involve identifying any hazards that the worker may be exposed to, assessing the risks of harm that may arise from those hazards and implementing control measures to eliminate the risk or minimise its ability to cause harm. These processes once implemented need to monitored and regularly reviewed to ensure their effectiveness is maintained.

A major part of an employer’s responsibility is to ensure that they provide a safe working environment for workers. Part of this is providing adequate information, instruction and training for workers that are working alone. Workers need to be made aware of the hazards that may be associated with the work they will undertake and ensure that they know the procedures they need to follow in order to reduce risk.

Employers should also ensure that they provide supervision of the worker if the work being undertaken is for an extended period of time.

When implementing any of these safety measures, make sure workers are consulted throughout the process.

The general duties imposed on employers by the OSH Act include requirements for safe systems of work, information, instruction, training and supervision, consultation and co-operation, personal protective clothing and equipment and safe plant and substances.

Providing workers with the appropriate information, training and instruction must be done in relation to working alone, emergency communication devices and how to follow the procedures set up.

Part of the emergency procedures that need to be designed in case of the unexpected include procedures for emergencies, such as fire, first aid or spills of hazardous substances.

Personal security systems and radio communication systems are some of the systems that can be implemented in solitary work environments as a means of communication and protection against emergencies.

 

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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