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by the NFCC

Control measure

Assess risk from lone working

Control measure knowledge

Legislation requires employers to consider carefully and then deal with any health and safety risks for people working alone. Decisions to allow lone working at an operational incident should be based on the known levels of the individual's competence and the anticipated risks of the incident ground.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication Working alone: Health and safety guidance on the risks of lone working, states that employers have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:

  • Involving personnel when considering potential risks and their control measures
  • Taking steps to ensure risks are removed where possible, or putting in place control measures

Risk assessment should help to determine the right level of supervision. There are some high-risk activities where at least one other person would need to be present, including:

  • Working in a confined space, where a supervisor may need to be present, along with someone dedicated to the rescue role
  • Working at or near to exposed live electricity conductors

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that policies relating to lone working include the operational environment

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Carry out a risk assessment before allowing lone working
  • Be aware that some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by unaccompanied personnel
  • In situations when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the task to be conducted safely by lone working, address that risk by making arrangements to provide help or back-up