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Lone working policy and code of practice

Policy statement

It is the Policy of the University of St Andrews, IT Services that episodes of lone working are to be exceptional events i.e. such working practices are not recognised as being the norm – the bulk of an employees work duties, on campus, are to be undertaken within hours of 08:00 – 18:00, Monday through Friday. Periods of lone working are to be avoided where ever reasonably and operationally practical to do so.

Where lone working cannot be avoided, safe working is to be facilitated by:

  • Risk assessment, to identify potential hazards that may impact on the health and welfare of a member of staff (the lone worker) – this can be a conversation with a line manager with the outcomes confirmed in a recorded form e.g. email;
  • The implementation of suitable control measures to reduce the likelihood of any harm occurring to a lone worker;
  • Controlled entry to and exit from University premises i.e. reporting to a third-party that an episode of lone working is about to commence and confirming with a third-party that that episode of work has concluded – this can include telephoning the IT Services out of hours service and discussing lone working requirements with the duty Associate Chief Information Officer.

Where control measures that would reduce the likelihood of harm to a lone worker arising cannot be implemented and/or where controlled entry and exit from University premises (as described herein) cannot be facilitated then lone working is strictly prohibited.

Definitions

The Health & Safety Executive define lone working as:

“Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision [this will include]… people working alone in premises… people working separately from others… [and] people working outside normal office hours”

Risk assessment

The University has a legal duty to investigate the potential hazards faced by lone workers and assess the risks involved both to the lone worker and to any person who may be affected by their work. The University should also ensure that measures are in place to control or avoid such risks.

Risk assessment: responsibilities of IT Services

Annually, all locations on the University estate where staff engaged by IT Services work, are subject to a Health & Safety risk assessment. Those assessments are formal records and are submitted to the IT Services Health & Safety Committee for their consideration, then passed to the Chief Information Officer for approval and signature before being submitted to the University Health & Safety Officer. Locations that are deemed not to be suitable for lone working will be identified as part of this annual risk assessment process. Where control measures that would bring the risk of harm to a lone worker within acceptable levels cannot be implemented, lone working in that location will be prohibited.

Risk assessment: responsibilities of individual employees

Each individual has a responsibility to assess whether:

  • It is reasonable, given all the circumstances and the direction provided in this Policy and other University policies, codes of practice on lone working – that an episode of lone working should be entered into or otherwise. If there is any doubt, then lone working should not take place;
  • There is a likelihood that they could experience real harm, where any physical and/or mental health condition that they may be currently experiencing could trigger any medical incident as a direct or indirect result of working in a lone working environment as defined herein. This would include: not being able to secure or seek directly or indirectly the administration of prescribed medication, first aid or help from the emergency services. Persons suffering from diabetes, a cardiac condition, epilepsy, will not normally be permitted to work as a lone worker (as defined herein) where a risk assessment had not first been undertaken. If there is any doubt, then lone working should not take place.

Specific prohibitions

The following prohibitions will also apply:

  • Unless suitable adjustments can be made, and those be approved by Occupational Health or a similar authority, employees who are currently experiencing any medical conditions which
  • make them unsuitable for working alone, are prohibited to work as a lone worker;
  • Normally lone working will not be permitted in locations where a lone worker would not have reasonable access to multiple forms of external communication devices e.g. landline telephone and functioning mobile devices capable of reaching a functioning communications network.
  • Activities that require the use of a ladder greater than 1.5m in height where the ladder cannot be secured / lashed and requires ‘footing’ by another person.
  • Activities that require the use of power tools.
  • Activities that require the use of noxious chemicals or substances, flammable liquids.
  • All lone working where the Met Office have issued amber or red severe weather warningscovering St Andrews, or where the Police or the University have advised that un-safe conditions prevail.
  • All lone working when the University is closed for public holidays e.g. Christmas or other such events e.g. national events such as the Jubilee.

Responsibilities

Chief Information Officer

  • Ensuring that systems are in place to identify and control the risks from lone working for all of their staff and contractors.
  • Setting the normal working hours and building access periods for IT Services and ensuring that these are widely promulgated.
  • Ensuring that throughout normal working hours the local arrangements for core service provision are adequate to ensure the safety of staff, students, visitors and contractors.
  • Taking appropriate action when non-compliance is brought to their attention.

Line managers

  • Granting permission to those planning to engage in lone working, where necessary, and where the appropriate risk assessments have been carried out and appropriate control measures implemented.
  • Ensure that information about relevant hazards and related emergency procedures is given to staff and contractors undertaking lone working.

Employees seeking to work as lone workers

  • Ensuring that they have obtained prior permission for lone working from their line manager or their nominee.
  • Ensuring that the identified control measures from a lone working risk assessment are implemented and maintained.
  • Ensuring that they adhere to agreed protocols for Controlled entry to and exit from University premises.
  • Ensuring that they keep within the scope of the agreed work and work areas – and where those conditions cannot be maintained that lone working immediately ceases.
  • Informing their line manager or their nominee they have a health condition that may present increase risk should they be subject to a period of lone working.
  • Informing their line manager or their nominee immediately or an alternative point of contact if there are any problems or changes to agreed arrangements.
  • Ensuring that they are familiar with the local arrangements for fire safety, first aid, spillages, power failures and other emergencies.

Procedures

Risk assessment and approval for lone working

  • This will be documented between the line manager or their nominee and the lone worker and will normally take the form of an email exchange.
  • The documentation must include:
  1. Specific mitigating controls that are to be followed for that episode of lone working;
  2. The agreed protocols for controlled entry and exit from University premises for the planned period of lone working – this could be a phone call to the Out of Hours Service or the line manager;
  3. A description of the work to be undertaken;
  4. An estimate of the start and completion time.

Controlled entry and exit from University premises

  • Telephoning the IT Services out of hours service and discussing lone working requirements with the duty Associate Chief Information Officer.
  • Filling out the building entry log book on starting work outside normal hours and upon leaving the building, where such a log book is maintained.
  • The agreed protocols for controlled entry and exit from University premises for the planned period of lone working, as agreed between the lone worker and their line manager and document as part of the risk assessment (see this Policy – Risk assessment and approval for lone working).

Contact

IT Services

Butts Wynd Building
Butts Wynd
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (1334) 463333