SC01 - Lone Working
16 Jun 2016



Lone Working




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Rev Details Date
Initial launchJune 2016
Scope reference to lone working with young/vulnerable persons
April 2017
​Minor changes to reflect the launch of SHE Assure
October 2018​

1. Purpose

The demands of scientific experimentation, and technology development/testing often result in STFC staff and others working alone. Lone working does not always occur in isolated locations. Such work can occur at any time during the working day and can be associated with long or extended working hours or working out of normal working hours including weekend/bank holiday working. This is a natural part of the culture associated with scientific endeavour, cutting edge technology development, operating facilities or delivering 24/7 services.

In these circumstances the safety controls, support and communication channels present when working alongside colleagues for example in the event of a fire, equipment failure, illness or injury, may be different or absent and need to be considered. Fatigue is an extra factor to be considered when working long or extended hours, in particular out of normal working hours.

Examples where specific care should be taken include:

  • entry into confined spaces;
  • handling biological, flammable or toxic materials;
  • working with asphyxiants or in areas with oxygen depletion systems;
  • significant manual handling activities;
  • working “on call”;
  • work with high pressure systems; or
  • working in high temperatures or outdoors in extreme weather conditions.

The STFC has a duty under general Health & Safety legislation:

  • the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act,1974 (as amended);
  • the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations,1999 (as amended);
  • the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations, 1981 (as amended); and
  • the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005;

to identify workplace hazards and assess their risks - lone working is a hazard that must be considered.

This code outlines STFC policy with respect to lone working such that risks are minimised, and is summarised in Appendix 1. Lone workers should not be put at significantly more risk than those working with others.

2. Scope

This Code applies to STFC staff whether working on STFC sites or elsewhere and to contractors, visitors, tenants and facility users working at STFC managed sites.

This code does not apply to STFC staff undertaking informal “home working” but does apply to those staff for whose contract of employment stipulates home working (including “on call”).

This code does not cover the hazards associated with travelling alone on Council business, see STFC SHE Code 8: Travel on Council business.

This code does not address the hazards that can be associated with ‘lone working’ with young or other vulnerable persons, for example work experience students. Specific health and safety guidance for work experience supervisors can be found here, alongside site specific work experience supervisor handbooks based on the STFC HR ‘Safeguarding policy (link opens in a new window)’.

Related SHE codes and policies:

3. Definitions

3.1 Lone working

Lone working takes place when an individual works in such circumstances that their location is not known by others and they have neither visual nor audible communication with someone (an STFC employee or other person) who can summon assistance or provide first aid in the event of an accident or illness.

Lone working can be planned, but can also arise inadvertently through the unanticipated departure of colleagues for meetings or at the end of the working day.

Lone working may be found in a wide range of situations, for example:

  • Those working alone on STFC sites, e.g. in small workshops laboratories, experimental hutches, clean rooms, restricted access facilities, offices, estates plant rooms;
  • Those working alone at non STFC sites, e.g. NERC MST radar facility Aberystwyth or indeed any collaborative partner laboratory; or
  • Those working out of normal working hours, for example when called in “on call”.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Department directors shall:
  • 4.1.1 Ensure that lone working is actively considered as part of risk assessments undertaken by their staff, establishing the culture and limits within which lone working is acceptable, see Appendix 1.

    Where there are mandated site based systems for managing lone working Directors should ensure that their staff and those that work with them on STFC sites are aware of and follow the site based controls.
4.2 Line managers and supervisors shall:
  • 4.2.1 Ensure that documented risk assessments consider the hazards arising from lone working SHE code 6 Risk Management: Appendix 1 (PDF - 249kB - link opens in a new window). The risk assessment must be based upon the standards defined in Appendix 1, guidance in Appendix 2, and must address access to first aid, medical and fire services, and other foreseeable emergency situations.
  • 4.2.2 Ensure that, where there is no prior risk assessment (for example when staff are called out when “on-call”) and lone working is likely, a risk assessment is prepared to cover the expected range of lone working for those staff.
  • 4.2.3 Ensure that tenants, facility users or visitors under their responsibility undertaking lone working are informed of any site or facility controls for lone working.
  • 4.2.4 Ensure, through periodic inspection, that lone working controls established in risk assessment and method statements are implemented by their staff and those working for them on STFC sites, for example visiting scientists, facility users etc.
4.3 Contract supervising officers shall:
  • 4.3.1 Ensure that where work on STFC sites is managed by contractors that the hazards associated with contractor staff undertaking lone working are considered in their risk assessments and method statements, and as appropriate they are made aware of site based lone working systems.
  • 4.3.2 Ensure, through periodic supervision, that lone working controls established in risk assessments and method statements are implemented by contractors
4.4 Staff, tenants, contractors, facility users or visitors shall:
  • 4.4.1 Discuss with their line manager, or other person responsible for their safety, the need for lone working prior to embarking on such work. Inform colleagues and those responsible for monitoring site or facility occupancy when working alone, for example site security or those manning facility control rooms.
  • 4.4.2 Comply with the local procedures and controls for lone working defined in risk assessments, systems of work or method statements.
  • 4.4.3 Inform the person responsible for their safety if they have any medical condition that may affect their ability to work safely alone. For example epilepsy, low blood pressure, heart conditions.
  • 4.4.4 Report all incidents relating to lone working to their line manager and through SHE Assur​e following SHE Code 5 - Incident Reporting and Investigation.

5. References

5.1 Working alone: Health and safety guidance on the risks of lone working (PDF - link opens in a new window), HSE information leaflet INDG73.

Contact: Smith, Andrew (STFC,DL,COO)