Safety Services


Lone Working

UCL Mandatory requirements when working alone:

Heads of Department must ensure that their written arrangements include:

  • a definition of normal working hours;
  • a list of Departmental activities which must not be conducted while alone; 
  • authorisation of routine specified lone working activities; 
  • procedure for authorising non-routine lone working activities.

A copy of the UCL Safety Services Guidance on Personal Safety when lone working and travelling (staff and students) can be found at the following link:

Personal Safety (Lone Working & Travelling)

A copy of the UCL Standard - Lone Working in which the mandatory requirements are published can be found at the following link:

Table of UCL Standards

Additional Guidance

Guidance on lone working emergency procedures for normal and out of hours working can be found at the following link:

Table 1: Lone Working Emergency Procedures

Guidance on activities which must not be conducted while alone can found at the following link:

Table 2: Lone working-activities guidance pdf


Work: paid employment (on a fixed or permanent contract), studying, carrying out research, volunteering to conduct UCL business.

Safety role holder: first aider, fire marshal etc

Supervisor: a person who has a duty to manage any aspect of the work activities of the department, whether it's carried out by an employee or student e.g. line manager, principle investigator, research group leader etc.

Lone working: working without close or direct supervision or remote from colleagues i.e. colleagues may be in the next room or on other floors in the same building. Lone workers can be peripatetic (routinely walks between work locations) or in fixed locations. Lone working can occur at any time i.e. either during normal working hours or out of hours.

Normal working hours: defined by Heads of Department as times when safety role holders are at optimum levels.  This definition must take account of the time of year:

  • term-time;
  • non-term time;
  • extended working hours e.g. events, exhibitions and exam time;
  • UCL closures e.g. Christmas, Easter and Bank Holidays.

Out-of-hours: times when safety role holder levels are below optimum levels e.g. evenings, early mornings, weekends and public holidays. 

N.B. Work conducted out-of-hours will not always be while alone. 

Risks associated with working alone
  • unable to summon help as a result of injury, ill health or an emergency;
  • unable to carry out a task safely while alone.

Managers must consider the following when deciding if an activity can be conducted while alone:

Individual vulnerabilities

  • Are any individuals eg women especially at risk when working alone?
  • Is the person medically fit to work alone? Some medical conditions make sufferers unsuitable for lone working. Managers who have concerns about an individual's fitness for lone working should refer them to Occupational Health after completion of the 'Safety Critical Health Assessment Form'.
  • Are inexperienced workers especially at risk while working alone?
  • Individuals with impaired vision, hearing or mobility.
  • Individuals whose first language is not English e.g. arrangements are in place to ensure information is communicated effectively, especially emergency arrangements

Work patterns: Specific work patterns may begin during normal working hours and continue out of hours.

Location or work area: The work may be conducted in places managed by UCL, another employer or an external location. If the worker is peripatetic more than one work location or area may be visited on the same day.

  • office, laboratory, workshop
  • storeroom, plant room, cold room, clean room, interview room, server room
  • riverbank, moorland, home of a research subject, vehicle

Work activity: If the task is to be carried out by someone working alone the risk assessment must consider the hazards of being alone in addition to the hazards involved with the work itself. Guidance on activities which must not be conducted while alone see the following link: 

Table 2: Lone working - activities guidance pdf

Access arrangements: Arrangements to prevent unauthorised access to areas where staff work alone. Access to building or work area controlled by;

  • Security or reception staff
  • Keypad
  • Entry card

Managers must ensure that:

  • the lone worker understands the risks and precautions involved in their work i.e. has enough experience to work without direct supervision;
  • the lone worker has information to deal with emergencies; N.B. the lone worker may not be familiar with the building in which they are working. Guidance on activities which must not be conducted while alone can found at the following link:

Table 2: Lone working-activities guidance pdf

Managers should consider one or more of the following controls depending on the level of risk:

  • a start/finish time has been agreed for out of hours lone working;
  • the lone worker informs their supervisor that work has started / finished;
  • periodic checks by the supervisor or person designated by the supervisor are made at agreed intervals e.g. hourly. Checks can be in person, by telephone (mobile or landline) or two-way radio. Alternatively, the lone worker can contact the supervisor or person designated by the supervisor at agreed intervals.  N.B. ensure the means of communication works in the work location e.g. mobile phone reception is not universal;
  • a procedure is in place to deal with failure to contact lone worker at agreed intervals;
  • a record is kept  of the information that has been provided to individuals who work alone. 
Review the risk assessment

Managers must review the risk assessment periodically:

  • at intervals determined by the risk assessment e.g. every 12 months or sooner;
  • if something goes wrong e.g. accident or incident;
  • if something changes e.g. people, equipment or location;

    • is it still necessary for the work to be conducted alone
    • is the worker still medically fit to work alone