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 and 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 must include:
- Name, address, location and telephone number of the workplace
- Name, address, location and telephone number of the employer
- Nature of the business conducted at the place of employment (for example, retail)
- Identification of any risk that arises out of or in connection with the work assigned (for example, risk: violence)
- Procedures to follow to minimize the risks identified in the sections above
- Communication methods
- Emergency response activation and procedures
- Communicate the code of practice.
- 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.
While the employer is ultimately responsible for all the provisions mentioned above, the supervisor has a vital role to play in the safety of their teams. As a supervisor, you must:
- Acquaint your employees with the hazards and control measures associated with their work
- Provide the information and instruction necessary to ensure their health and safety
- Enforce company safety rules, programs, codes of practice and procedures, including ensuring employees comply with the requirements below.
- 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 to your employer.
- Report any hazards to your employer or supervisor.
- 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 VII PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
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 is approved by Transport Canada or by an agency permitted by Transport Canada to approve it;
(c) a personal flotation device that is approved by Transport Canada or by an agency permitted by Transport Canada to approve it;
(d) an automatically inflatable personal flotation device that is approved by Transport Canada or by an agency permitted by Transport Canada to approve it; 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; 2020-35, s. 10]
Part XVII CONFINED SPACE
Section 262.04 Responsibilities of attendant
262.04 An attendant shall
(a) be stationed at all times outside the point of entry to or exit from the confined space and continuously monitor work in and near the confined space,
(b) be knowledgeable about the actual and potential hazards associated with entering a confined space,
(c) maintain two-way communication with the entrant,
(d) review the entry procedures prior to entry,
(e) during the entry,
(i) monitor conditions and changes that could adversely affect the health or safety of the entrant,
(ii) ensure that the procedures to be followed and the equipment to be used in the event of an emergency are followed and used correctly,
(iii) recognize the signs and symptoms of illnesses, injuries and hazard exposures that can compromise the health or safety of the entrant,
(iv) have a means for two-way communication with the entry supervisor and emergency response team leader, and
(v) keep track of entrants entering and exiting the confined space.
[N.B. Reg. 2022-79, s. 55]
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.
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
351. (1) An employer shall ensure that an employee who operates a chain saw, brush saw or clearing saw is knowledgeable of the emergency communication procedure and the transportation procedure set out in New Brunswick Regulation 2004-130 under the Act and is accompanied by a person who holds a valid First Aid Workplace Certificate in accordance with that Regulation.
(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.
[N.B. Reg. 2022-27, s. 55]
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.
Code of Practice for Working Alone Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 92-133
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.
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.
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.