Spotlight on the risks of working alone
The serious risk posed to workers who work alone in remote or isolated locations was tragically brought to light in the case of an engineering surveyor working alone in Western Australia, who died after being stung by a bee.
Glenn Morton, who was working as a contractor at a site operated by Iluka Resources in 2018, had a life-threatening bee-sting allergy and had been previously hospitalised for a bee sting. His employer told Iluka about the allergy but failed to pass on to the mine operator the serious nature of the condition.
At the time Glenn was stung, he was working alone. He managed to self-administer an EpiPen and radio for emergency assistance, but was found unconscious and later died in hospital.
His employer was recently prosecuted and fined $60,000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure a safe working environment.
Lessons for employers
Working alone poses a number of safety risks, particularly for workers with vulnerable health issues such as life-threatening allergic conditions.
If your workers may be working alone, you should consider:
- preparing a working alone policy;
- providing training and instruction in the policy;
- regularly communicating with the worker while they are at the remote location;
- planning for emergencies, including provision of first aid equipment;
- implementing security measures if there is a threat of assault or violence; and
- monitoring the worker while they are undertaking the isolated work to ensure that emergency response can be rapid.
It is important to remember that the lack of immediate emergency assistance is one of the biggest risks when a worker is working alone. Be sure to put in place effective emergency assistance protocols for any remote or isolated workers.
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