Weekly Safety Topic – Working Alone

The number of people needed for a job may vary based on the work to be performed. Safety is usually discussed in the morning huddle when working in a group. The daily safety meetings remind everyone to follow safe work practices when working in a group. When working together, everyone should look out for each other and keep each other safe and on track. What if you are the only person assigned a particular job? When no one else is around, it might be easier to let safety slide. When you are the only one on the job, would you read a safety meeting or complete a job safety analysis? When you work alone, you need to be even more vigilant about safety because, more than any other time, your safety depends entirely on you.

Working alone presents many challenges. There is no one watching your back, reminding you to wear your personal protective equipment (PPE), or giving you a heads up if you may make a mistake. Occasionally, though, only one person is required, which is you. You can complete the job without getting hurt if you plan and prepare for all potential hazards.

Before working alone, ask yourself:

  1. What job­ pre-task plans, JSAs, permits, and inspections are required?
  2. Do you know what PPE is required and have it all on hand?  
  3. How will the work be performed: on the ground, from a scaffold, on the roof, or in the basement?
  4. Have you taken the time to familiarize yourself with the work area?
  5. Do you know where all the inherent hazards are?
  6. Will your work require fall protection?
  7. Will the work produce sparks, welding slag, or open flames that could cause a fire or explosion? Do you need a hot work permit or fire watch?
  8. Do you have the proper fire extinguisher on hand?
  9. Will you need to work from a ladder?
  10. Do you have the right tools for the job?
  11. Is power available? Is additional lighting needed?
  12. Is GFCIs in place?
  13. Is drinking water available, and is there access to restroom facilities?
  14. Are you working in a confined space? Will a permit be required?
  15. Do you have a way to communicate with your supervisor or call for help if there is a problem?
  16. What happens if you get injured? What will you do until help arrives?

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