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Working Alone Procedures

Classification number LCG 1106.02
Parent policy Health and Safety Policy
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Senior Leadership Team
Policy owner Vice-President, Human Resources and Services
Approval date January 16, 2017
Review date January 2020
Last updated Editorial Amendments, February 18, 2020

Purpose

The purpose of these procedures is to support the University's Health and Safety Policy and to provide for the health and safety of University Members in Working Alone situations. These procedures are in accordance with the University's Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) and the University’s obligations as an employer under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and as an educator. These procedures set out the requirements for all those who may be in a situation where they are Working Alone and the supervisory responsibilities and approvals required to ensure health and safety in a Working Alone situation.

Definitions

For the purposes of these procedures the following definitions apply:

“Buddy System” means a plan of organizing and designating University Members such that each University Member is observed by at least one other. The Buddy System must include periodic checking of the other’s designated safety.

“Competent Person” is defined by the OHSA, and any amendments thereto, and means a Supervisor who is:

  1. qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance
  2. is familiar with the OHSA and the regulations that apply to the work, and
  3. has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace

“Employee” means a worker, as defined under the OHSA, who is employed at the University (https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90o01#BK0).

“Hazard” means a situation in the Workplace that poses a level of threat to life, health, property or the environment.

“Risk Level” means the classification given to a Hazard. Risk Level classification is in accordance with the Guidelines for Assessing and Addressing Risk, and any amendments thereto.

“Safety Plan” means a documented plan of safe work procedures to prevent or minimize the occurrence of Workplace accidents.

“Supervisor” means any person who has supervisory responsibilities over other person(s) or has charge of the Workplace

“Student” means any individual registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University

“University Member” means any individual who is:

  • Employed by the University (“Employee”);
  • Registered as a student (“Student”);
  • Holding an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honorific
  • appointments; and/or
  • Otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

“Visitor” means any person who is not a University Member and who has occasion, for any reason, to be present at any location owned, leased, rented or otherwise utilized by the University.

“Workplace” means any location or facility owned, leased, rented or otherwise utilized by the University for the purposes of carrying out University activities, including any off-site location where authorized work is being conducted.

“Working Alone” means any work, research or scholarly activity, taking place in a location where, in the event of injury, health impairment, victimization or other foreseeable serious emergency, immediate assistance would not be available to a University Member. Students are considered to be Working Alone when performing work, research, or scholarly activities assigned by an academic supervisor and/or to complete degree requirements.

Scope and authority

These Procedures apply to all University Members performing work which meets the definition of Working Alone in the Workplace.

These procedures do not apply to University Members undertaking voluntary independent study unless they are performing prohibited activities as prescribed in Appendix A.

These Procedures do not apply to volunteers, Visitors and/or third-party contractors.

The Vice-President, Human Resources and Services, or successor thereof, or designate, is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of these Procedures.

Procedures

General

  1. Working Alone is only permitted where it is in compliance with applicable legislation, regulations, policies and procedures. Working Alone is specifically prohibited by law in the case of activities set out in Appendix A to this document.

  2. Work will normally be scheduled, so far as it is practical, to avoid Working Alone situations. A University Member will not be assigned to Work Alone when a practical alternative exists.

  3. Working Alone is prohibited without the prior approval of a Supervisor and where required, the implementation of a Safety Plan.

  4. All Working Alone tasks will take into consideration, and be performed in compliance with, any regulations, codes, policies or procedures that apply to the work to be performed or the environment of the Workplace where the work is to be done.

  5. University Members assigned to Working Alone must be deemed competent for the duties assigned as determined by their Supervisor.

Supervisors

  1. The Supervisor has primary responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of the Workplace and University Members under their direction. The Supervisor must be a Competent Person and will evaluate assignments for Working Alone on a case by case basis. In approving a Working Alone situation consideration must be given to:

    1. Any legislation, regulation, code or existing policy or procedure that prohibits a person from Working Alone;
    2. The assessment of the University Member as a Competent Person;
    3. The Risk Level and associated Hazards involved in the work to be performed and/or the Workplace environment;
    4. Potential consequences resulting from an accident occurring;
    5. Potential personal safety issues including the University Member’s physical abilities or medical conditions as disclosed to the Supervisor;
    6. Likelihood of other people being in the area if emergency assistance is required;
    7. Ability to implement necessary and appropriate safeguards and access emergency assistance.

  2. In consultation with the University Member, and where required, the Supervisor will establish a Safety Plan before approving a Working Alone situation.

  3. The Supervisor may seek the assistance of the Office of Health and Safety (OHS) in the preparation of a Safety Plan.

  4. The Supervisor must make every reasonable effort to ensure compliance by the University Member with the Safety Plan and all legislation, regulations, codes, policies and procedures, and amendments thereto, that apply to the work performed by the University Member. Where a University Member is not in compliance the Supervisor must intervene and take measures to correct the situation.

  5. Supervisors will provide ongoing instruction and training to University Members to ensure competency in a Working Alone situation.

University Members

  1. University Members have a responsibility to work in the safest possible manner at all times, acting in compliance with all legislation, regulations, codes, policies and procedures, and amendments thereto, that apply to the work being performed and/or the work environment.

  2. Where required, University Members are responsible for participating in the development of a Safety Plan and for adhering to that Plan at all times.

  3. Where a Buddy System has been put in place the University Member is responsible for periodically verifying the safety of other University Member(s) designated as the buddy under the Buddy System.

  4. Under the OHSA, Employees are entitled under the OHSA to refuse unsafe work. An Employee who has reasonable grounds to believe they are at risk as a result of being assigned to Work Alone may refuse unsafe work in accordance with the University’s Work Refusal Procedures.

The Office of Health and Safety (OHS)

  1. The Office of Health and Safety supports these Working Alone Procedures by providing consultation and support to Supervisors and University Members in assessing work assignments and developing Safety Plans.

  2. The OHS will periodically audit Safety Plans to ensure that they adhere to this procedure. If it is determined that the Safety Plan does not meet regulatory compliance, or is insufficient for the protection of the University Member, the OHS will require amendments to the Safety Plan prior to the Working Alone task being performed again under the Safety Plan.

Office of Campus Safety

  1. Where required, a Safety Plan may include a requirement that the University Member advise the Office of Campus Safety to alert them that the University Member is Working Alone.

  2. The Office of Campus Safety will, upon request, provide assistance to verify the safety status of a University Member Working Alone.

Working Alone Safety Plan (Safety Plan)

  1. Where Working Alone is approved, the Supervisor, in consultation with the University Member, will establish a Safety Plan for each Working Alone situation following the Risk Assessment Guidelines for Assessing and Addressing Working Alone Risk. The Safety Plan must be in place prior to a University Member Working Alone and will include:

    1. Determination of the Risk Level of the work, taking into consideration the Hazards associated with the work to be performed, and the environment of the Workplace where the work is to be done;
    2. The frequency and method of verifying the safety status of the University Member Working Alone;
    3. The procedures to eliminate or minimize the identified risks;
    4. Methods for obtaining emergency assistance;
    5. Confirmation of the time periods and locations to which the Safety Plan applies.

  2. Where Working Alone is required on a recurring basis as a result of the type of work, the Workplace and/or is done by multiple University Members, a single, common Safety Plan may be established for all University Members.

  3. Safety Plans will be developed using the Safety Plan Templates provided by OHS.

  4. Copies of the Safety Plan must be signed by the Supervisor and the University Member. A copy of the Safety Plan must be retained by the Supervisor for reference in the event of a potential safety audit.

  5. Where Working Alone is necessary on a regular basis, the Safety Plan will be reviewed and updated as necessary and at least once per year. Safety Plans must be updated whenever there are changes to the:

    1. University Member(s) involved;
    2. Applicable legislation and/or applicable regulations;
    3. Work activity; or
    4. Physical environment of the Workplace.

Risk Level Assessment

  1. A Risk Level classification must be assessed for any work performed and/or Workplace environment when Working Alone is being considered. The Risk Level classification must be set out in the Safety Plan.

  2. Risk Level classification is in accordance with the Risk Assessment Guidelines for Assessing and Addressing Working Alone Risk, and any amendments thereto.

  3. Where the Risk Level for a given work activity and/or Workplace environment is deemed to be excessive, or the risk cannot be sufficiently minimized through the application of control measures, the Supervisor will not permit Working Alone to occur.

Monitoring and review

These Procedures will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The Manager, Health and Safety, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review these Procedures.

Relevant legislation

Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSO 1990, c O.1
Occupational Health and Safety Act, RRO 1990, Reg. 858
Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 851
Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 213/91
Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 67/93
Occupational Health and Safety Act, O. Reg. 632/05

Related policies, procedures & documents

Health and Safety Policy
Occupational Health and Safety Management System
Risk Assessment Guidelines for Assessing and Addressing Working Alone Risk
Working Alone Safety Plan Templates (located on the University's Health and Safety site)
Work Refusal Procedures

Appendix A - Prohibited Working Alone Tasks

The following are work tasks for which Working Alone is prohibited under any circumstances. These prohibited tasks include work which require the University Member to:

  • enter a confined space. “Confined space” means a fully or partially enclosed space, that is (a) not both designed and constructed for continuous human occupancy, and (b) in which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of work that is done in it. Confined Spaces Regulation (O. Reg. 632/05)
  • work on an installation, equipment, or conductor operating at a nominal voltage of 300 volts or more, except while testing equipment or trouble-shooting. (O.Reg. 851, Sec. 42.1)
  • work on electrical systems rated at more than 750 volts; (O.Reg. 851, Sec. 42.2)
  • work in trenches; (O.Reg. 213, Sec. 225)
  • use a portable ladder that exceeds 6 metres in length and is not securely fastened, or work with a ladder that is likely to be endangered by traffic; (O.Reg. 851. Sec. 73);
  • work at heights of above 10 feet which require the use fall arrest equipment and scaffolds
  • operate machine and power tools that could cause critical injury, e.g., lathes, table saws, and chain saws;
  • use or handle quick-acting acutely toxic material as described by the Material Safety Data Sheet, e.g., inorganic cyanides, fumigants, etc.;
  • use supplied air respiratory equipment or self-contained breathing apparatus (CSA Standard Z94.4-93 Sec. 9.3.3., 9.3.4.);
  • perform work where there is a risk from drowning (O. Reg. 851, Sec. 86);
  • operate a vehicle, crane or similar equipment near a live power line where it is possible for any part of the equipment or its load to make contact with the live power line (O. Reg. 851, Section 60);
  • operate a vehicle, crane, mobile equipment, or similar material handling equipment where the operator does not have full view of the intended path of travel (O. Reg. 851, Section 56);
  • perform welding operations where a fire watcher is required as per CSA Standard W117.2-94, Safety in Welding Cutting, and Allied Processes;
  • handle animals capable of causing critical injury or paralysis, and life threatening zoonotic diseases.
  • perform a task which, based on the risk assessment conducted by the Supervisor in consultation with the Employee and the Joint Health and Safety Committee worker representative(s), is deemed to require more than one person.