A key component of workplace safety comes from employees being able to watch out for one another. However, working alone presents a fundamental challenge to watchfulness. How can someone watch a colleague’s back if that colleague is out of sight?
Working alone can increase the likelihood of some workplace hazards or risks and, when incidents do occur, the consequences can be more severe. Here are some quick tips to help make sure that you stay safe while working alone.
Stop and consider the work involved
Start by identifying all potential risks on the job site. Think through the entire situation, and identify what possible hazards are present, or can arise, for each step of the task. Be sure you consider the location, nature of the work, what forms of emergency communication are available, and length of time you will be working alone. Also, it is extremely important to be aware of all possible high risk activities, such as working from heights, with electricity, or hazardous equipment/materials, as these present a greater risk to a lone worker.
Analyze and manage the situation
After identifying all potential hazards, it is best to assess the situation. Determine whether you are fully equipped with the knowledge, training, and tools to safely complete the task. If you are fully equipped to handle the situation, then you may safely remove the hazards and use the proper tools to complete the task. However, if you find that you are underprepared for dealing with the hazards, immediately contact a supervisor or safety specialist to report what you have found. Most importantly, be cautious. If something does not feel safe, then do not proceed.
Communication is key when working alone. Whether by radio or phone, it is always a good idea to check to make sure that someone knows where you are. Be sure to report any potential hazards to a supervisor or safety specialist as you encounter them. This will help ensure that at least one other worker knows that you were at a potential risk, and he or she can then communicate the potential hazard to any other worker who may be impacted. It is best to stay aware of what others on the job site are doing, and by regularly checking in, you are helping to promote a safe work environment for all. Remember that everyone’s job begins with making sure safety comes first.