Working Alone Risk Assessment & Check-In
WorkSafeBC describes working alone or in isolation as working in circumstances where assistance is not readily available in case of an emergency, injury or poor health.
Isolation includes situations such as two employees working together but unable to get emergency help quickly due to their remote location.
A flexible work arrangement may find you working in your home office, driving in remote areas, visiting a client at their home or assigned to work after regular office hours with no staff around. Such situations of working alone call for a risk assessment and may require a check-in procedure to ensure staff safety.
Working alone regulations apply only if the worker is assigned to work alone. They do not apply when employees are at work on their own accord, such as if they choose to come in early, work late or on a day off.
If you answer yes to any of the situations listed below, your supervisor will need to create a check-in procedure.
- Do you work alone in your home office?
- Do you work alone for periods of time, including before or after normal working hours?
- Do you work away from your regular work location to meet clients or regulatory staff, social workers?
- Do you work along remote routes (such as resource and rural roads) where assistance may not be readily available?
- Does your position require you to be in remote areas, for example to conduct inspections in the field?
- Do you perform hazardous activities (such as work in confined spaces)?
- Do you work or travel in extreme weather conditions?
- Do you work in places of isolation from public view, where you are at risk of violent attack? Examples are enforcement officers in correctional facilities or social and health care workers visiting clients in their homes
When working alone what potential risks/hazards are apparent?
- Face-to-face contact with clients
- Mechanical hazards (for example, operating a chainsaw)
- Compliance/enforcement duties
- Environmental hazards
- Driving a vehicle
- Working with money, drugs or other valuables
Based on the type of working situation and the potential risks or hazards, have a discussion with your supervisor and create a check-in procedure that works for your situation.
Working Alone Check-in Procedures
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires all B.C. employers to establish check-in and other procedures to protect employees working alone or in isolation, whether in the field or in an office. The ministry may determine what check-in procedure meets both operational and occupational safety requirements. A formal Working Alone Plan, including a check-in process, must be created.
If your supervisor determines that you meet the requirements for working alone or in isolation, your supervisor is responsible for setting up a suitable check-in procedure. The first step in creating a check-in procedure is a Working Alone Risk Assessment, explained above. The Working Alone Program Checkup (PDF, 41KB) can help assess risks and create a plan.
A formal check-in between the supervisor and employee is a requirement of the Telework Agreement. If you're a teleworker and your supervisor has not formalized a procedure for working alone, you need to initiate that conversation.
Here are some check-in options:
Email & communicator
The procedure may be a simple email or Office Communicator check-in at the start and finish of each day. In higher risk occupations, more frequent check-ins are required.
Automated call-in procedure
Supervisors and workers may subscribe to an automated service such as SafetyLine to sign-in and out of each day, if Article 22.11, Radio Contact or Employee Check of the BCGEU Master Agreement does not apply. This program will also alert the supervisor if the employee does not check-in, allowing for an emergency response.
A written procedure must state that the time that lapses between checks and check-ins will be documented. Written procedures must also include the steps to take if a check-in/out is missed. The time between checks must be developed between the supervisor and the employee, in consultation with the local Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. At a minimum, this schedule would include contact at the start and end of the business day.
Written procedures must also include the steps to take if a check-in/out is missed. The interval between checks is based on the risk involved in the work assigned.
Read the WorkSafeBC Working Alone Guide (PDF, 2MB) for more information on working alone procedures.