Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Working alone

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

The University is committed to ensuring the safety, health and security of staff, students and others who are on University premises and are isolated from other persons because of time, location or nature of their work. Under these circumstances there are special risks due to the lack of immediate assistance in the event of an accident or sudden illness.

This guidance applies to working alone at any time but when planning after-hours working there are specific limitations on accessing workplaces and also on the types of work that may be undertaken.

Health and safety legislation requires that if an employee is isolated from other persons because of the time, location or nature of the work then the employer must ensure that there is a means of communication available which will enable the employee to call for help in the event of an emergency and arrangements made to ensure regular contact. The maximum penalty for breaching this regulation is $25,000.

If you are required or intend to work alone you must have permission to do so from a Manager or Supervisor who has assessed risks associated with the planned activities, considered the availability of any potentially required support services and concluded that such working arrangements are acceptable. This may include addressing unattended reactions or experiments. In addition, disclosure and consideration of any medical conditions that may give rise to a dangerous or life threatening situation when working alone must be taken into account.

In all of the following cases, working alone is not permitted where:

  • There is no readily accessible means of communication.
  • Work which is remote or isolated from the assistance of others due to the location, nature or time.
  • Operation or maintenance of hazardous equipment.
  • Handling of hazardous substances or use of large volumes of flammable solvents.
  • Work which is too hazardous for a person to perform alone.
  • Working with large or aggressive animals.
  • Maintenance or adjustments on energised electrical or electronic systems.

Under the following circumstances, working alone is permissible:

  • An authorised person is notified of the planned work, when it will commence and the expected completion time.
  • Staff and students may work alone in office and other low risk environments.
  • An easily accessible means of communication to gain assistance in an emergency is available.
  • Undertake all required personal security measures e.g. lock doors, walk in well-lit areas.

The campus emergency number is 6488 2222. UWA Security (phone 6488 3020) offer a 24 hour escort service to vehicle or residences near the campus and also offer lectures on personal security. To request their assistance telephone 6488 3020 allow up to 20 minutes notice for the escorting service.

WorkSafe WA provide guidance regarding working alone and how it influences the risk of harm or injury at https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/guidance-note-working-alone  

References