Health and Safety standard

Lone Worker Standard FINAL V1 July 2014 (PDF)

Lone working

Date of Approval July 2014 Expiry Date July 2017
Author and Lead Kate Lindsell, Assistant Director of HR (Safety, Health and Wellbeing)
Aims The University is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all staff, students and visitors. This standard sets out the requirements for staff and managers in managing safety whilst lone working. Working alone is not in itself against the law and it will often be safe to do so, however, the law requires the university to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone.

The principles of this standard are to:

1) Identify those who are required/choose (e.g. out of hours) to work alone.
2) 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.
3) Ensure that risks are removed where possible, or put in place measures to control or avoid such risks.


This standard applies to all campuses of the University of Exeter.

NOTE: Managers, who are responsible for fieldwork risk assessments and any lone working within the fieldwork process, should use the fieldwork risk assessment process and use the information and prompts within the lone worker standard and lone worker risk assessment to support this process.


Lone working:

A lone worker is a person who undertakes a specific activity unaccompanied or without immediate access to supervision or another person for assistance. It is not where individuals experience brief situations in which they find themselves alone, but where individuals are knowingly placed in circumstances where they work without direct or close supervision. . They may be found in a wide range of situations, and some examples are provided below:

  • People working alone in premises, e.g. in workshops, laboratories, rooms or shops;
  • Working from home other than in low-risk, office-type work;
  • People working separately from others, e.g. in research facilities, leisure facilities or grounds / maintenance;
  • Mobile workers away from their fixed base e.g. drivers, travelling;
  • People working outside normal hours (08:00-18:00), e.g. 24 hour laboratory work, cleaners and security, maintenance or repair staff.
Relevant Legislation The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, INDG73 HSE guidance on lone working. 
Responsibility for implementation Colleges and PS Heads of Service
All employees who are defined as a lone worker
Training availability:

Training on lone working risk assessment is available on request - please contact

Standard to meetAccountabilityReference documents and more information
1. General duty

Colleges and Professional Services must ensure that appropriate systems are in place to eliminate, reduce and control the risk to lone workers. They will ensure that risk assessments are completed and all reasonable steps are taken to reduce risks.

All areas where lone working is a requirement, must assess the risks and develop suitable plans, protocols or arrangements (hereafter referred to as arrangements) to ensure that any risk to lone worker is eliminated, or where it is not possible to eliminate, reduce and control to the lowest level or lone workers. These arrangements must be tested and regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain suitable and sufficient and that all lone workers are 1) trained on the process and 2) using the process effectively.

All managers of lone workers must follow the steps in the standard below to ensure that all lone working risks are eliminated or reduced to the lowest level possible.

College Dean / Head of Professional Service  

Identification of hazards and assessment of risk

Managers will assess the risks of lone working to these people based on the tasks, environment and working conditions and reduce the risk to the lowest level possible.

The Lone Worker Risk Assessment Tool should be used to identify and record this assessment.

Where the risk cannot be removed identify effective control measures.

The manager should work with the staff involved in Lone Working tasks to ensure the assessment is a suitable reflection of the work being carried out.

Managers should also take into account the different people who are lone working and consider:

  • Are there any reasons why the individual might be more vulnerable than others and be particularly at risk if they work alone (e.g. pregnancy, trainee, disabled, medical condition)
  • In cases where English is not the employees first language, are suitable arrangements in place to ensure clear communication in the event of an emergency
  • Other inability to communicate

Consider both routine work and foreseeable emergencies.

Managers /Supervisors have a duty to record the significant findings of all risk assessments and must be aware of any specific law that prohibits lone working for a given activity/process. Please keep your completed risk assessments on your file and review regularly (at least once per year).

NOTE: Managers who are responsible for fieldwork risk assessments and any lone working within the fieldwork process, should use the fieldwork risk assessment process and use the lone worker standard and lone worker risk assessment to support this process.

Managers / Supervisors  Lone working risk assessment tool

Prohibited activities

There are some situations where lone working is prohibited. There are certain tasks that may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker. The manager will decide on the basis of risk which tasks can be carried out safely alone, and which tasks are not possible to be conducted safely by a lone worker and address these issues by providing other suitable arrangements for this work to be carried out.

All decisions will be recorded on the risk assessment.

Prohibited Activities are as follows:

a. Entry into Confined Spaces: A confined space is a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby (e.g. lack of oxygen).

b. Use of ladders greater than 1.5m in height where the ladder cannot be secured / lashed and requires ‘footing’ by another person.

c. Use of dangerous machinery where there is a risk of entanglement, entrapment, crushing, impact, or injury from cutting or shearing, stabbing or puncture, unless the worker has received sufficient training in work at those machines.

d. Electrical work involving manipulation of live, un-insulated power conductors.

e. Other work on or near bare live conductors where a person working on his/her own would not be capable of undertaking the work safely without assistance in, for example, keeping other persons from the work area

f. Using chemicals or hazardous substances being used that may pose a risk to the lone worker.

g. Construction sites

Managers are authorised to assess and define any other local task that they deem unsafe for a lone worker to carry out. Any locally defined prohibited tasks will be documented and approved within the College / PS. 


Define the work that can/cannot be carried out by the lone worker

Managers/ Supervisors have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. They are required to set the limits (local rules / local procedure) of what work can and cannot be done whilst working alone, these departmental / functional area (eg workshop),Laboratory local rules should be recorded as part of the risk assessment and endorsed by the College/PS.






Lone worker training

Managers will ensure that all staff who are lone workers receive information, instruction and training on:

• The hazards associated with the activity and the risks arising from the hazards (results of the risk assessment), the necessary precautions to eliminate or control the risks.
• The processes and procedures in place to reduce the risks during lone working including how to use any control measures such as radios, stop buttons etc.
• Supervision and monitoring arrangements in place for them
• The limits of what tasks can and cannot be done whilst working alone.
• Action in the event of an emergency.

Managers will keep records of information and instruction given to staff.


Condition of lone worker control systems

Colleges and PSs are able to source and procure any Lone Worker device that is suitable for the intended task. Managers can seek advice on products from the Health and Safety Department as required.

Any lone worker controls and devices e.g. radios provided by the College / PS to control the risk to Lone Workers will be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.


Supervision and monitoring

Procedures must be in place to monitor the well-being of lone workers. These may include;
• Periodic visits and observing people working alone.
• Pre-agreed intervals or regular contact between lone worker and supervisor / nominated buddy, using phones, email or radios.
• Manually operated or automatic warning devices which trigger if specific signals are not received periodically from the lone worker
• Robust system to ensure a lone worker has returned to, or contacted, their supervisor once their task is completed.

The supervision and monitoring required will vary according to the level of risk.

The responsibility for ensuring safe systems of work are implemented for lone working lies with the person who manages the work; this responsibility cannot be delegated to the lone worker although they will ultimately be implementing it.

Managers ‌‌

Role of the lone worker

All lone workers will attend all necessary local training and follow all safety procedures/rules in place.

All staff, students, visitors and contractors have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work activities and to co-operate with meeting our legal requirements.

Ensure that you fully understand and implement all management controls put in place to enable the lone working activity to be conducted safely and keep within the scope of the agreed lone work and work areas.

All lone workers will immediately report any hazards, issues or defects with the lone working arrangements to their manager or person in charge. If there is the threat of serious and imminent danger, the task must cease or the lone worker will raise the concern/alarm immediately. Any Lone worker who is concerned about their work they are carrying out should contact their manager or ACM(I) or PS equivalent, H&S union representative or the University Health and Safety Team (

Any lone worker found either not to be using the devices/systems provided in the interests of their safety without specific and reasonable cause or deliberately misusing an item provided in the interests of safety, may be subject to further investigation and disciplinary action, depending on the circumstances. This will be investigated within the College/PS with input from the HRBP as necessary.

Lone workers

HSI01 Incident reporting form V2


Health and Safety team contact details


College and PS management arrangements

Any manager who is unable to control the risks associated with lone working will escalate the risks and issues to the College ACM(i) or equivalent lead in PS in order to seek support to reduce the risks. Colleges and PS Heads of Service will ensure that any actions identified by standard monitoring (below) are taken forward

College ACM(I) / PS Head of Department  

Further support

The Health and Safety Department will provide advice and support to managers and lone workers when required.

Health and Safety Department Health and Safety Executive Guidance INDG73 – Working alone in safety; Controlling the risks of solitary work
Standard monitoring and measurement criteria

Annually the Standard Lead for Lone Working will carry out a review to ensure that all elements of the standard are being implemented effectively across all aspects of the standard. Performance scoring criteria will be set in advance.

Specifically the following will be measured:


Working with the ACM(I) A sample of areas (no less than 30 across the university) will be contacted and asked to produce :

  • the lone worker risk assessment
  • training records
  • maintenance records (where relevant) 
  • evidence of emergency procedures being tested within the last 12 months

The quality and scope of these documents will be assessed.


From a sample of employees identified as lone workers on the area risk assessment, carry out an assessment of the Lone Worker knowledge of the lone working systems in place.

The results of the review will be shared with each college and department, indicating and learning and action that needs to be taken. A summary of compliance will be reported to the Health and Safety Committee annually.