Working Alone

Employers must establish a code of practice for all employees who work alone. While the regulation does not specify a definition for the term “working alone”, for the purposes of this regulation, an employee is “working alone” at a workplace if they are the employer's only employee at the workplace and working in circumstances where help is not readily available in the event of an injury, ill health or emergency.

Circumstances where a code of practice could be required include:

  • Working alone at hazardous work; for example, in oil and gas fields, or a mechanic working alone under a car.
  • Travelling alone; for example, truck drivers, field workers, research scientists, surveyors, wildlife officers.
  • Working in isolation; for example, custodians and security guards or maintenance workers.
  • Meeting clients away from the office; for example, home care workers, nurses, government enforcement officers, social service workers, or real estate agents.
  • Working alone and handling cash; for example, convenience store clerks, retail service and food outlet workers, or taxi drivers.

The regulations also specify situations where working alone is prohibited. It is not permitted to work alone:

  • In confined spaces.
  • When operating a chainsaw, brush saw or clearing saw.
  • When performing underwater diving operations.
  • Where there is a risk of drowning unless the employee wears a life jacket.

As the employer, you must:

  • Identify all jobs/tasks that may be conducted by the employee while working alone.
  • Develop and implement a code of practice for working alone.
  • The code of practice needs to include:
  • Train the employees working alone and their supervisors on appropriate safe working alone procedures.
  • Provide the materials and equipment identified in the code of practice for working alone.
  • Ensure the code of practice for working alone is followed.
  • Review the code of practice for working alone periodically and revise it as necessary.

As the employee, you must:

  • Be aware of the hazards of working alone.
  • Participate in the training offered by your employer.
  • Know and follow your employer's code of practice.
  • Report any incidents and hazards.
  • Help identify hazards and control measures.

Factors to consider when assessing the risk of working alone:

  • Remoteness of the location. (Also consider situations not normally associated with ‘remoteness'. For example, the security staff who walk the perimeter of the property by themselves or the clerk who is not in direct sightlines with any other employee.)
  • Characteristics of the location (wilderness, industrial area, etc.).
  • Transportation means.
  • Availability of emergency assistance.
  • Response time in emergencies.
  • Time needed to complete the task.
  • Time of day the job/task is performed.
  • Type of work.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Potential for exposure to aggressive or violent behaviour.
  • Potential for critical injury.
  • Communication means.
  • Employee's physical and psychological fitness for working alone.

Best practices to control hazards when working alone

It is the employer's duty to identify reasonable measures to take to protect the health and safety of an employee working alone. Examples of steps to take can include:

  • Using controls such as barriers and enclosures between the employee working alone and the public; rooms with two exits; reception rooms with windows so that somebody from outside can see what is going on; security cameras; buzzers to unlock door; etc.
  • Using administrative controls, such as planning hazardous work during daytime while others are present.
  • Establishing means of communication such as cellular, persondown device, and in-person visits.
  • Establishing the frequency of communication.
  • Following the communication protocol.
  • Planning the emergency response (consider scenarios such as communication failure).
  • Ensuring that a first aid kit is available at the work location (such as a personal first aid kit carried by the employee, a first aid kit in the vehicle, etc.).
  • Keeping communication and emergency equipment in good order and testing periodically.
  • Testing the reliability of the emergency response procedure.
  • Paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Avoiding handling large amounts of cash.
  • Learning how to recognize signs of potential violence.
  • Learning how to avoid or diffuse violent situations; do not fight or respond back.

Some jobs are by nature too hazardous to be performed by a person working alone. The employer, who has the duty to take precautions to protect the health and safety of employees, may implement internal policies that may include other situations, specific to the workplace, where working alone is not allowed.

General Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 91-191

Part XVII CONFINED SPACE

Section 266

266. (1) An employer shall ensure that

(a) all protective equipment and emergency equipment identified under subsection 263(3)

(i) have been inspected by a competent person,

(ii) are in good working order, and

(iii) are at the entrance to the confined space before an employee enters the confined space;

(b) a competent employee trained in the procedures referred to in subsection 263(3) is

(i) in attendance outside the confined space,

(ii) in constant communication with the employee inside the confined space, and

(iii) provided with a suitable alarm for summoning assistance;

(c) the competent employee referred to in paragraph (b)

(i) holds a valid standard-level first aid certificate issued by the Canadian Red Cross Society or St. John Ambulance, and

(ii) is trained in artificial respiration and cardiopulmonary resuscitation;

(d) where required under subsection 263(3), every employee entering into, exiting from and occupying the confined space wears a full body harness attached to a life line that is attached to a secure anchor outside the confined space and is controlled by the competent employee referred to in paragraph (b);

(e) where there is more than one employee in the confined space, steps are taken to ensure that any life lines attached to body harnesses worn by the employees do not become entangled; and

(f) an employee who is trained in the emergency procedures referred to in subsection 263(3) and who is fully informed of the hazards in the confined space is in the immediate vicinity of the confined space to assist in the event of an accident or other emergency.

(2) An employer shall ensure that the full body harness referred to in paragraph (1)(d) meets the requirements for Group E harnesses in CSA standard CAN/CSA-Z259.10-M90 , "Full Body Harness".

[N.B. Reg. 2001-33, s. 90]

Part XX UNDERWATER DIVING OPERATIONS

Section 307 Planning a Dive

307. Unless otherwise provided, an employer shall designate a competent person who meets the qualifications under section 304 and who has a minimum of five years diving experience to supervise an underwater diving operation.

Section 317

317. An employer and a diving supervisor shall ensure that a stand-by diver is present at all times while an underwater diving operation is in progress.

Section 337 Scuba Diving

337. (1) An employer shall not employ a diver using SCUBA

(a) on an underwater construction project,

(b) where diving in a confined space,

(c) where underwater power tools are used,

(d) where water currents, visibility, weather conditions or underwater conditions present hazards to a diver that could be alleviated if the diver were using surface-supplied air,

(e) where the diving environment is contaminated,

(f) where there is danger of entrapment, or

(g) where the depth of the dive may exceed 30 m.

(2) An employer shall ensure that at least three persons are present on each dive site where a diver is using SCUBA, one of whom is the diver, one a stand-by diver and one a competent person.

(3) A diving supervisor is not required to be present at a dive site referred to in subsection (2).

Part XXI LOGGING AND SILVICULTURE OPERATIONS

Section 351

351. (1) An employer shall ensure that an employee who operates a chain saw, brush saw or clearing saw does not work alone.

(2) An employer shall ensure that an employee who operates a chain saw, brush saw or clearing saw has

(a) a suitable fire extinguisher or a round point shovel readily available,

(b) suitable first aid supplies readily available, and

(c) a pressure bandage.

Section 352

352. An employee who operates a chain saw, brush saw or clearing saw shall

(a) not work alone,

(b) not girdle trees,

(c) not refuel the saw while the engine is operating,

(d) move the saw at least 3 m from where it was refuelled before starting the engine,

(e) refuel only from a non-glass container with spout or funnel,

(f) not refuel the saw near any source of ignition, and

(g) carry or keep close at hand the pressure bandage provided by the employer.

Part VII PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Section 51

51. (1) The following definitions apply in this section.

"automatically inflatable personal flotation device" means a device that provides buoyancy through an automatic inflation mechanism with an oral inflation system as a back-up and when worn correctly supports a conscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position, but is not designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water;

"life jacket" means an inherently buoyant device that when worn correctly supports a conscious or unconscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position and is designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water;

"personal flotation device" means an inherently buoyant device that when worn correctly supports a conscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position, but is not designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water, and includes devices that are designed to protect an employee against hypothermia..

(2) If an employee is exposed to a risk of drowning, an owner of a place of employment, an employer and a contractor shall each ensure the employee uses one of the following:

(a) a fall-protection system;

(b) a life jacket that conforms to CGSB standard CAN/CGSB-65.7-M88 , "Life Jackets, Inherently Buoyant Type";

(c) a personal flotation device that conforms to CGSB standard CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88 , "Personal Flotation Devices";

(d) an automatically inflatable personal flotation device that meets UL1180-95, "Fully Inflatable Recreational Personal Flotation Devices"; or

(e) a personal safety net that conforms to the requirements of section 49.8.

(3) The shell of a life jacket or flotation device referred to in paragraphs (2)(b) to (d) shall be bright yellow, orange or red and have retro-reflective material fitted on surfaces normally above the surface of the water.

(4) Despite subsection (2), an employee shall wear a life jacket when

(a) working alone, or

(b) there are insufficient resources to provide a quick and effective rescue.

(5) An employer and a contractor shall each ensure that an employee wears a life jacket or flotation device referred to in paragraphs (2)(b) to (d) when being transported in a boat.

(6) If an employee works on ice and the water under the ice is more than 1 m in depth, an employer and a contractor shall each test the ice before beginning any work and after as necessary to ensure that the ice will support any load placed on it.

(7) If an automatically inflatable personal flotation device is used, the employer and the employee shall each ensure that

(a) the device is inspected and maintained by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications, and

(b) the date and details of the inspection and maintenance are recorded.

(8) If an employee may fall into water or any other liquid and may require assistance to return to a place of safety, an employer and contractor shall each ensure that a copy of emergency procedures is posted at the place of employment, and which copy shall contain

(a) a full description of the emergency procedures, including the responsibilities of all employees granted access to the place of employment; and

(b) the location of any emergency equipment and the name of the employee designated to operate the equipment.

(9) Emergency procedures shall include the following, as applicable:

(a) with regards to water or another liquid,

(i) its temperature,

(ii) its depth, and

(iii) its flow;

(b) any water traffic;

(c) the distance to the rescue boat;

(d) the distance to reach an employee;

(e) any projections or objects beneath the surface;

(f) any visibility issues;

(g) the time of day; and

(h) any adverse weather conditions.

(10) If an employee may fall into water or any other liquid and may require assistance to return to a place of safety, an employer and contractor shall each ensure that

(a) appropriate emergency equipment is ready to be used,

(b) a person who is competent to operate the emergency equipment is readily available to provide assistance, and

(c) an alarm system is provided to signal the need for a rescue.

(11) An employer and a contractor shall each ensure that an employee wears a life jacket or a personal flotation device when participating in a rescue.

(12) If an employer or contractor provides a boat for use in an emergency, the employer or contractor shall ensure

(a) that the rescue boat is equipped with a life ring or buoy that is attached to 30 m of rope and a boat hook, and

(b) that the rescue boat is motorized if the water is likely to be rough or swift.

[N.B. Reg. 97-121, s. 13; 2001-33, s. 22; 2010-159, s. 8]

Code of Practice for Working Alone Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 92-133

Section 2

2. An employer shall establish a code of practice to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of an employee who works alone at any time at a place of employment risks arising out of, or in connection with, the work assigned.

Section 4

4. An employer shall provide any equipment required in a code of practice established under section 2 and shall ensure that the code of practice is adhered to at the place of employment.

Section 6

6. An employer shall implement a training program in respect of a code of practice established under section 2 for each employee who works alone at any time and for each supervisor who is responsible for an employee who works alone at any time.