Last updated October 2021
This chapter explains the health and safety risks of working alone, and how to reduce them and thereby comply with your health and safety obligations.
When might a worker be working alone?
There are many circumstances in which a worker may be required to work alone.
Working alone means that a person:
- is on their own;
- cannot be seen or heard by another person; or
- cannot expect a visit from another worker.
A worker may be required to work alone when:
- travelling or working offsite, e.g. sales representatives, community workers and scientific researchers;
- working in the service industry, e.g. a service station attendant on night shift;
- driving, e.g. delivery or long-distance truck drivers, and bus and taxi drivers;
- other staff are absent, e.g. the accompanying staff member is on sick leave or steps away from the worksite to run an errand;
- needing to work separately from others due to the nature of the task, e.g. work that must be carried out in a confined space; and
- working from home.
What are the health and safety risks of working alone?
Working alone creates unique risks to the health and safety of your workers. You must take all reasonable steps to reduce these risks and take into account that many activities are riskier if carried out alone.
The risks involved in working alone vary depending on the worker’s tasks. Common risks of working alone include:
- manual-handling injuries from lifting without assistance;
- risks from third parties not within the direct control of your business, e.g. assault or abuse from intruders or customers;
- falling or slipping and being unable to alert anyone to obtain assistance, e.g. falling off a ladder; and
- risks from handling dangerous substances, e.g. decanting flammable liquids.