General Working Conditions >> Working Alone

Employees working alone are at an increased risk due to their remote location, which may decrease the likelihood of rapid detection or prompt treatment of an injury.

Working Alone

The following are examples of where employees working alone are placed at increased risk:

  • An employee working alone on a job task at the far end of a vessel, vessel section, or shipyard;
  • An employee working alone in a hold, sonar space, or tank;
  • Two employees working on either side of a metal partition;
  • One employee performing hot work with a fire watch located on the other side of a bulkhead; or
  • An employee working alone in a confined space.

Potential Hazard

Employees who become injured while working alone could succumb to their injury prior to being discovered.

Requirements and Example Solutions

Pocket Watch
  • Whenever an employee is working alone, such as in a confined space or isolated location, the employer must account for each employee (29 CFR 1915.84(a)):
    • Throughout each workshift at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment (29 CFR 1915.84(a)(1)); and
    • At the end of the job assignment or at the end of the workshift, whichever occurs first (29 CFR 1915.84(a)(2)).
  • Employees’ working alone must be accounted for by sight or verbal communication (29 CFR 1915.84(b)).
    • Acceptable means of visual communication may include the use of a camera or in-person.
    • Verbal communication must include both parties speaking. Examples of suitable verbal communication may include a two-way radio (walkie-talkie), in-person, or intercom system usage.
    • Cell phones may be used in areas where there is consistent reception. Reception can be limited, such as below deck.
    • Methods of communication that have low reliability and are not acceptable means for employee accountability include the sound of power tools, whistles, or tapping on tank walls, bulkheads, or decks.

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