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Working alone

According to the Work Environment Act (AML, Chapter 3, Section 2, Paragraph 2) and the Ordinance of the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health (AFS 1982:03 - Working alone), the employer must take into consideration the special risk of illness that may result from an employee working alone. Working alone is defined as work where the employee works in physical or social isolation from other people. Physical isolation is a situation in which the employee does not come in contact with others unless a technical means of communication is used. Social isolation is a situation in which the employee works among others, but the circumstances are such that he or she cannot rely on their help in an emergency.

At Linköping University, employees work alone to some extent where the physical environmental conditions may cause injury, for example, working with flammable materials, gas or power, interference with a high-pressure device, repair work on machines or inside a vessel or confined space where there is a risk of stumbling or getting stuck, handling of hazardous chemicals in small confined spaces, working with machinery with moving parts or tool etc.

For employees working alone at evenings and weekends, the risk of threats and violence from the outside should also be considered.

The assessment of work risk also requires an assessment of which level of communication requirements is necessary to guarantee that an injury in the workplace does not lead to more serious consequences. Such requirements may include:

  • At least two people's presence is required; working alone is not permitted.
  • The continuous presence of at least one person with the sole task of monitoring and intervening from a safe location.
  • At least one person who, for the most part of the work time, is available nearby and in addition to other work, is responsible for monitoring and intervening.
  • At least one person within earshot (without television, radio or similar) who intervenes on a given signal.
  • Constant contact via technical aids that are carried (e.g. portable radio, telephone or similar).
  • Technical alternatives, e.g. radio, telephone or similar, which are placed in the workplace to immediately contact someone who can provide help.
  • Same as above, except that it is permanently installed in the vicinity, e.g. telephone in the office, lab or similar.
  • Regular visits or notification at the workplace at certain times, for example, guard patrol or similar.

When planning for employees working alone in situations that may potentially be hazardous or strenuous it is important that the employer and the Health and Safety Representative concerned assess the risks and plan appropriate measures in the form of technical solutions, education, instructions, supervision and monitoring. Students are equivalent to employees in this respect.

Page manager: monika.rissanen@liu.se
Last updated: 2016-04-25