Working in isolation or alone on a construction site can be twice as hazardous as work on an average site because most often the very same hazards exist that you would experience on a normal construction site but the risks are heightened because help is often harder to get to, therefore the margin for error is much less.
Working alone can increase a person’s likelihood of some workplace hazards or risks taking place and when safety incidents do occur, it is less likely that the person would be able to access help. Therefore the consequences of safety incidents are more severe and in life-threatening situations this can literally mean the difference between life and death.
One of the most important issues is that people who work alone have an effective means of communication at their disposal. Some of the communication means include mobile phones, emergency beacons and 2 way radios.
Building firms need to ensure that there is a procedure in place for the isolated or solitary worker to be contacted regularly during their shift.
Another important issue relating to this type of work is that emergency procedures are in place and workers are trained in what actions to take in an emergency especially in the event that contact with the solitary worker cannot be made.
When workers are operating alone on a construction site, planning is important in controlling the risks. The risk management process should involve identifying any hazards that the solitary worker may be exposed to on site. It also entails assessing the risks of harm that may arise from these hazards and finally developing and implementing control measures to eliminate the risk or minimise its ability to cause harm. Once these processes have been designed and implemented on site, they should be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are continually effective.
Employers need to ensure that they are fulfilling their responsibility in providing a safe working environment and safe system of work for employees, regardless of whether they work on a traditional construction site or one where they have to work alone.
Part of fulfilling this responsibility includes providing adequate information, instruction and training for workers that are working alone. Workers need to be made aware of the hazards that may be associated with the work they will undertake and ensure that they know the procedures they need to follow in order to reduce risk.
Providing workers with the appropriate information, training and instruction must be done in relation to working alone, emergency communication devices and how to follow the procedures set up.
Training for workers needs to include general construction safety training as well as site specific training. In addition to fulfilling a mandatory legal requirement, completing the white card course is important for construction workers to ensure they are familiar with the hazards presented by construction work, it is important for every worker but becomes even more vital where the risks are greater, such as on solitary work sites.