There is no absolute prohibition on working alone, but in some circumstances the law requires that at least two people must be present and specifies the safe systems of work to be followed.
Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of their employees when they are at work and the health and safety of those affected by the work. It is the employer's duty to organise and control solitary workers.
Employees have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work and to co-operate with their employers in the discharge of their legal obligations.
People who work alone without supervision are found in a wide range of situations. Some examples are given below.
People working from a fixed base where:
- only one person works on the premises - in small workshops, petrol stations, kiosks and shops
- people work separately from others - in agriculture and forestry, factories, warehouses, some research and training establishments, leisure centres or fairgrounds
- people work outside normal hours - cleaners, security, special production, maintenance or repair staff
Mobile workers working away from their fixed base:
- on construction, plant installation, maintenance and cleaning work, electrical repairs, lift repairs, painting and decorating
- service workers - rent collectors, postal staff, social workers, home helps, district nurses, pest control workers, drivers, engineers, architects, and similar professionals visiting domestic and commercial premises.
For further information please contact the Environmental Health Service or refer to the link to the Health and Safety Executive website.