It is always highly recommended that employers should try to avoid having employees working alone where at all possible. This is equally applicable to schools. An employee working alone may have an increased risk of having an accident or sustaining an injury and as always the employer is potentially liable. Furthermore, an employee may fall ill or indeed suffer an assault. We understand that circumstances will dictate that lone working is a necessity from time to time. In order to protect the school as best as possible, the school should always have an up to date working alone procedure. Employees must be aware of it and adhere to the guidelines. Below we have provided sample guidelines that we would expect to see. Schools can adjust as required for their own circumstances.
If it is deemed necessary and unavoidable, which may be the case for a caretaker, secretary, school leader or other member of staff, the following precautions should be observed:
- Park your car close to the main entrance where there is an external light. Move it there whilst there are still others on site if you are planning to work late
- Always carry a mobile phone (charged) with you and ensure emergency numbers are programmed in your phone
- Lock the doors and close the windows to prevent intruders
- Avoid working outside of the main building in the late evening/night time
- Do not work at heights on a ladder or steps unaccompanied
- Know the location of your nearest fire exit and how to open it in an emergency
- Know the location of the nearest first aid kit
- Do not use the lift (if applicable)
- Do not go into attics or any other space in which you might become trapped
- Do not undertake any tasks involving hazardous tools or materials unaccompanied
- When leaving, limit the amount you are carrying to have one hand free
- Ensure someone knows where you are and your estimated time of arrival home
- Set up a phone call from your manager / one of your colleagues/family member to check in with you on a very regular basis
- If you arrive at property and find any sign of intruders, do not enter the building – call the Gardaí
- If you become aware of intruders or vandals, do not challenge them – call the Gardaí
- If you are about to leave the building, and only one of your colleagues are remaining on site, let them know you are going and they will be left alone
You should never work alone if you know you have a medical condition that might cause you to become incapacitated or unconscious. Also when working alone, do not attempt any tasks which have been identified as medium or high risk, or which common sense tells you are potentially hazardous given your own level of expertise and the nature of the task.
This guidance is for general information purposes only.