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Safety for workers working alone

Many Pennsylvania workplaces require employees to labor for some period by themselves during the usual course of their work day. This may occur inside a fixed facility or while traveling to separate work sites. As these workers will be alone, they will be without the support and security provided by other employees who otherwise would be able to stand ready to assist them in their tasks and come to their aid in an emergency.

A division of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries published comprehensive guidelines outlining safety precautions for workers alone at a facility or in a field. This document identifies risks and outlines measures for accident prevention for solitary workers.

Most of the guidance provided by the document is clear and comprehensible. Frequent contact between the worker and other employees, whether in person or by telecommunications, is advised. Emergency plans and clear permissions for what the worker is allowed to do in the field should be established. Worker safety training will naturally be essential, as lone workers will not be able to depend on anyone else to be there and help them.

Pennsylvania employees who have been injured in an on-the-job accident, may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, whether they were hurt on assignment or back at the headquarters. The salient fact is that their work placed them in position to be injured. If the employer denies that the injury happened in the course of employment, whether because the incident happened at a different site or because there is dispute as to whether the injury is job-related at all, then the assistance of an attorney may be helpful.

Source: Safety and Health, "Lone worker safety", July 25, 2015

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Gregory R. Gifford
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