Remote or isolated work
When you work remotely or in isolation, you are unable to get immediate attention from rescue, medical or emergency services, due to the location, time or nature of work being done.
As a worker you may face extra safety risks if nobody else is around to help with difficult tasks. Another worker can let you know about hazards or provide information or instructions about how to do a task safely. They can also notice if you are fatigued or making mistakes.
Those who work remotely or in isolation can include:
- farmers and agricultural workers
- park rangers and field scientists
- long-distance freight transport drivers
- security guards
- sales representatives
- real estate agents
- health and community workers
(for example, working with the public but isolated from their colleagues)
- all-night service station and convenience store attendants
- those who work from home.
In some situations, a worker may be alone for a short time or for days or weeks in remote locations, for example on sheep and cattle stations.
A worker may be isolated even if other people may be close by, for example a cleaner working by themselves at night in a city office building. In other cases, a worker may be far away from populated areas, for example on a farm. In another example, a hundred workers in a base camp in a remote area could be considered to be remote and isolated workers.
The main hazards that increase the risk of remote or isolated work are:
As a business (a PCBU) you must manage the risks associated with remote or isolated work.
When managing the risks, consideration should be given to:
- the length of time the person may be working alone
- the time of day when a person may be working alone
- a communication plan with workers
- the location of the work
- the nature of the work, as well as the skills and capabilities of the worker including any medical considerations.
There are specific laws that apply when you do remote or isolated work. As a PCBU you must:
- manage the risks associated with remote or isolated work; and
- provide a system of work that ensures effective communication with the worker.
These can be achieved by ways such as:
- monitoring your workers regularly, by phone calls or periodic visits
- having a check-in process whereby workers are required to contact ‘home base’ at a nominated time
- having an emergency response plan when workers fail to report in at an agreed time/s.
When implementing controls consideration should be given to:
- buddy systems
- workplace layout and design
- movement records
- training, information and instruction
- first aid in the workplace
- communication systems.
Communication systems needs to be provided so that it will allow a worker to call for help in the event of an emergency at any time. These could include:
- mobile phones
- satellite communication systems
- personal security systems or personal duress systems
- radio communication systems
distress beacons such as a personal locator beacon (PLB)
- NSW Government: Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017: Clause 48 Remote or isolated work
- NSW Government: Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017: Part 3.1 Managing risks to health and safety
- Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities
- Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks
- SafeWork NSW: Managing hazards and risks
- SafeWork NSW: Working from home under COVID-19
- SafeWork NSW: Working from home checklist
- Safe Work Australia: Covid-19 information: Working from home
- SafeWork NSW: Mental health at work