Working Alone or in Isolation

Working Alone

What is Working Alone or in Isolation?

Working alone or in isolation means to work in situations where assistance would not be readily available to the worker

  • In case of an emergency, or
  • In case the worker is injured or in ill health

Isolation is where multiple employees are working together, but unable to readily access emergency assistance due to their remote location.

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What do you need in place if a worker is working alone or in isolation?

Hazards must be identified prior to assigning a worker to work alone or in isolation. The hazard must be eliminated and if this is not practicable, the risk from the hazard must be minimized using the hierarchy of controls. A risk assessment is a methodical way of identifying hazards and assessing their risk. Safety & Risk Services has created a Working Alone or in Isolation Risk Assessment Template that can be used to fulfill these requirements. The risk assessment is to be completed by the supervisor in consultation with the worker assigned to work alone or in isolation. The results of the risk assessment will help identify the time interval between checks. The completed risk assessment must be sent to the relevant JOHSC for their review.

Download the Working Alone or in Isolation Risk Assessment Template

Once a risk assessment has been completed, a procedure for checking a worker’s wellbeing must be written which includes the time interval between checks and the procedure to follow in case the worker cannot be contacted. Safety & Risk Services has created a Working Alone or in Isolation Procedure Template that can be used to fulfill these requirements. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to confirm that the procedure is complete and accurate. The final procedure must be sent to the relevant JOHSC for their review. Lastly, both the Worker and the Emergency Contact must be trained in the written procedure for checking the worker’s well-being.

Download the Working Alone or in Isolation Procedure Template

Some UBC units address the issue of working alone simply by prohibiting the practice. This eliminates the need to complete a formal risk assessment and develop a procedure for checking the wellbeing of a worker assigned to work alone or in isolation

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What do you need in place if a worker is working alone while working remotely (at home)?

Prior to Working Alone Remotely:

  • Workers and their supervisors must follow the process outlined by UBC HR: Remote Work for Staff and set up a remote work agreement in Workday
  • Supervisors must ensure they know the workers work location and their designated emergency contact information is current
  • If there are any conditions/situations where there is an increased risk of injury or medical emergency, workers are required to inform their supervisors

Risk Assessment

In general, remote work (from home) is a low risk administrative activity and therefore a worker would only be required to check in at the beginning and end of their work day.

Check-in Designate

This is the person responsible for checking in on a worker working alone. This is the worker’s supervisor.

Check-in Tool

Identify a method for checking the wellbeing of the worker through two way communication. Some methods that are available include:

  • Zoom
  • MS Teams
  • Email
  • Slack
  • Text Message
  • UBCSafe App WorkAlone Feature

Procedure for checking a worker’s wellbeing

  • Worker completes a check in at the beginning and end of their work day
  • If the worker does not check in, the check-in designate must contact the worker (within 10 min of the check-in time) to verify the worker is okay
    • If contact is made, and the worker is okay, no further steps have to be taken
    • If contact is made and the worker is in distress or unwell, the check-in designate will call 9-1-1
    • If the check-in designate cannot contact the worker, they will contact Campus Security

NOTE: Campus Security will follow their internal procedures upon being contacted.


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What is the WorkAlone Feature?

The WorkAlone feature within the UBC Safe Vancouver app is a tool for graduate students, faculty, and staff who are working alone or in isolation on UBC Vancouver Campus. The WorkAlone feature is a convenient tool and offers a robust system that would allow individuals to regularly check-in with their emergency contact to indicate their safety and where required, trigger an escalation to locate the individual’s whereabouts. For further details about the feature and how to use it, view the WorkAlone Feature Step by Step guide.

Download the WorkAlone Feature Step by Step guide

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FAQs about the WorkAlone Feature

Can I use this feature at home or outside of the UBC Vancouver (UBCV) campus?

No, at this point the feature is set up to be used on UBCV campus locations only. Currently the escalation process has UBCV Campus Security (CS) performing on-campus in-person wellness checks on individuals who have missed their check-ins and is not available for locations outside of the UBCV campus borders.

Can I change how often the app checks up on me during a working alone session?

No, once a frequency is chosen, it cannot be changed during a session. If you would like to change your time you end and restart another session.

What if I have had an injury and I don’t check-in?

Your emergency contact will try to contact you and if you don’t respond, a member of Campus Security will arrive at your location. Based on the situation, Campus Security will act and notify any emergency response required.

Does my emergency contact have to be the same for each working alone session?

No, you can go into your profile and change this information. Remember to change it prior to starting a new session.

I wanted to check-in but accidently clicked “Emergency.”  Now what?

Clicking Emergency contacts your emergency contact. Don’t hang up. Stay on the phone and simply explain what happened.

How does my designated emergency contact know when I am “working alone”?

The emergency contact will be notified via text once the worker begins a working alone session in the app. However, at any point, the emergency contact can contact the worker directly (outside the automated features of the app) to speak with them. Your emergency contact must be aware of your upcoming session and understand their responsibilities in this role.

What happens if the worker forgets to finish their session?

If a worker forgets to finish their working alone session, this means they forgot their last check-in. This would then follow the missed check-in protocol as outlined in under the “Checking in using the WorkAlone Check-in Tool” section of this document.

Can Campus Security track a worker’s location through the app?

The app does not track a worker’s location. Campus security is only aware of the worker’s location to the based on the fields a worker fills out when they start their session (ie. building name, building address, room number, other important location details).

Can this App be used on a shared work phone?

Unfortunately, due to the personal information required to use the WorkAlone feature (eg. CWL) personally owned or UBC assigned phones can only be used.

My area of work is not an option in the list of buildings, what do I do?

Indicate the nearest building and provide a detailed description of your outdoor location(s) in the “Other important location details” section.

How do we specify a building when staff are required to move from location to location?

The worker should specify the first building where they will be present. Then, under “Other important location details,” outline all the other areas/buildings where the worker will move around. Provide a rough estimate where possible regarding where the worker will be during the beginning, middle and end of the working alone session.

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