Category Archives: Working Alone Regulations

General Procedures for Walk-in Freezers

Walk-in Freezers

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences has several walk-in freezers.  The walk-in freezers are used for storage of ice samples, lake core samples and meteorite samples and as a preparation area for laboratory procedures on such specimens. These facilities pose special risks to workers. All workers should be aware of the possibility of hypothermia, the enclosed space causing reduced oxygen levels as well as poorly or non-functioning opening mechanisms. Cooperation and respect for the facility are requested.

When you are in the freezers, you are often “alone” in that room, even during regular work hours. You should be aware of this and take the necessary precautions to reduce your risk. Basic precautions for working in the freezer are:

  1. Try always to work with a buddy. There is safety in numbers and an immediate support system in the event of an emergency.
  2. Be aware! Cold temperatures affect you both mentally and physically.
  3. Tell someone, your supervisor or another co-worker that you are going to work in the walk-in freezer and when you will return. If you are going to be in the freezer for an extended period, timed checks are advised. Do not forget to report back to that contact person at the agreed upon time(s)!
  4. You should be aware that cell phones might not work well in the walk-in freezer. Before relying on this as a communications device, check to see if it will work in that space. Remember that frozen batteries might disable the phone.  The EAS Department has several two-way radios that can be borrowed when working alone in the freezers (contact , Peter Carlson at 492-6443)

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

                                    Protective Services:  780-492-5050

     Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

Regulations outlined below must be followed or permission for future visits or work sessions will be denied. The Student Code of Behavior is applicable.

Regulations for  Walk-in Freezer

  1. Before entering the freezer, CHECK the door latch opens easily from the inside. If working for an extended period, check the door mechanism hourly to ensure that it has not frozen shut.
  2. Have a contact person and a check-in schedule. Ensure that your contact can access the freezer or Campus Security if the need arises. Check-in at least once an hour. Cold temperature reduces you mental alertness and physical coordination, so do not work in the freezers for extended periods without a physical and mental rest period. Access is restricted to regular University hours of operation, no evening or weekend work.
  3. Any work that requires moving, shelving/retrieval of heavy boxes or ice core must not be done alone.
  4. An appropriate stool or ladder should be used for shelving/removal of ice core or material from the upper storage shelves.
  5. No food or drink is to be stored or consumed in the walk-in freezers.
  6. Unlabelled samples or boxes will be discarded without notice, but do not move or disturb others samples/material/experiments.
  7. Coats/mittens/head wear or other fabric items of work gear must be hung on the hangers provided outside of the walk-in freezer. Fabric items should not be left on the floor, tables, chairs, storage boxes or blocking the cooling unit machinery.
  8. DO NOT change the temperature of the freezer. Unauthorized temperature changes can affect experiments or samples. Only U of A Facilities Management personnel can change the walk-in freezer temperature with permission from the supervisor.  Many of the freezers are alarmed, so changing the temperature could cause false alarms at Control Center.
  9. Freezer door must NOT be propped open. To prevent unauthorized entry to the walk-in freezer, the laboratory hallway door must be locked at all times when the offices or facilities are unoccupied.
  10. Do not block or cover the cooling fan units inside the freezer or the cooling unit outside of the freezer.

Persons to be notified in case of emergency are:

  • David Chesterman, Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator 780-492-8494
  • Diane Caird, Safety Committee 780-492-1122
  • M-J Turnell, Assistant Chair Admin.  780-492-3216
  • Robert Creaser, Chair of EAS Safety Committee       780-492-2942

 

Standard Operating Procedure

EAS areas of South Campus

Background

During the winter of 1999-2000 Building F-52 and the General Storage Building suffer­ed from a major infestation of mice. Droppings, dried urine and bodies were noted throughout both buildings. The presence of mice presents a potential biohazard, i.e. the possibility of the Hanta virus, which is extremely dangerous to humans. All recognizable and reachable traces of the infestation were removed from F-52 during the summer and the normal work areas were disinfected. It was not possible to clean all stacked/stored material, nor is it possible to completely exclude future intrusions of field mice so there will be a continuing potential biohazard. A continuing hazard will exist in the General Storage Building, which is open to continued access by field mice and is not under our control. An information package about this potential biohazard is provided. Contact Lisa Budney, Rm B-01 ESB at 780-288-0109 or D. Caird ESB Rm. B-06 or 1-13, 780-492-1122 or 248-1270 to obtain a copy of this package.

Before being granted permission to access or work in either building, you are required to sign that you have read and understood this information.

Mouse poison and traps will be used in Building F-52, and checked regularly to monitor and to eliminate the mouse population as much as possible in that building.

All persons visiting or working in this facility must be aware of the continuing potential biohazard and the steps to be taken if evidence of mice is found. Regulations outlined on the next page must be followed or permission for future visits/work sessions will be denied.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services:  780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

Regulations

  1. All visits to the EAS facilities on the South Campus (Building F-52 and the General Storage Building, later called either building) must be entered in the log maintained by the Collections Manager. Contact Lisa Budney, Rm B-01 ESB at 780-288-0109 or D. Caird Rm. B-06 or 1-13 ESB, 780-492-1122 or 248-1270.
  2. Any work that requires moving or examining material in either building must not be carried out alone. Solo visits are to be made only during regular working hours. Along with the key, you will be given a cell phone and during extended visits, lasting more than an hour, persons working alone must phone the main office every 2 to 3 hours and check in. The phone must be returned with the keys.
  3. Access to the forklift in Building F-52 is restricted to qualified EAS personnel. If you require the use of the forklift, arrangements will be made for EAS personnel to accompany you to the farm and they will operate the forklift.
  4. No food or drink is to be brought into either building, stored or consumed on the premises and no empty food or drink containers may be left anywhere inside the buildings, including in the trash bins.  Such items will attract mice into the building.
  5. No camping cooking equipment may be stored in either building.  The food odours will attact mice to the building.
  6. Any fabric items to be stored (i.e. sleeping bags, all-weather parkas, or other camping gear) must be sealed in mouse-proof containers, preferably a plastic (Rubbermaid style) storage box or a metal box or barrel.
  7. Lab coats or other fabric items of work gear must be hung on the hangers provided. Fabric items must not be left on the floor, tables, chairs or storage boxes.
  8. Prior to moving or accessing any stored material the user must ensure that there are no traces of mice on or around the material in question. If mouse droppings, dried urine or mouse bodies, killed by the poison in use in the building, are found then all work in that area must cease and the appropriate personnel in the EAS department, listed below, must be notified to arrange a decontamination and cleanup of the area.

Persons to be notified are:

  • Lisa Budney  780-288-0109
  • Diane Caird, Safety Committee, 780-492-1122
  • MJ Turnell, Assistant Chair (Admin.) 780-492-3216

General Procedures for Rock Saw Room

The Provincial Working­ Alone Regulation took affect on April 30, 2001. In compliance, the EAS Safety Committe has assessed the risk levels for access to the Rock Saw Facility

  1. The Rock Saw Facility can only be accessed from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. There will be no after hours or weekend access to the area.
  2. The Rock Saw facility has card-swipe access.   All personnel must signup to use this room and leave the room clean prior to finishing for the day.  After 4:00 p.m. your card will not open the door. The General Office Secretary can see your time in and time out of this facility. As always, do not allow anyone else access to the facility when you have signed up to use the Rock Saw room.  Everyone has to go through the training process to gain access to this facility.  Failure to follow the rules may result in you losing your access to the Rock Saw room.
  3. All personnel must be trained by Mark Labbe on how to use the equipment in this facility. Mark will have you sign a training record, stating that you have received training and that you understand how to safely operate the equipment. SOP’s for all equipment in the room have been posted. Workers are required to wear the safety equipment provided when using the rock saws.
  4. REPORT ANY FAULTY EQUIPMENT TO MARK LABBE IMMEDIATELY AT 780-492-7301.
  5. All personnel must have completed the Department of EAS WHMIS/Safety training before accessing this facility.
  6. Emergency phone numbers have been posted by the exit to this room.  Report any injuries to Diane Caird, Mark Labbe or Mary-Jane Turnell.

Failure to follow these rules will revoke your privileges to access this facility.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services:  780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

General Procedures for Rock Crushing Room

Working Alone Regulation are in effect for this area. The Department Safety Committee has assessed the risk levels of all areas in the department. The following changes have been made for access to the Rock Crushing Room:

  1. The Rock Crushing Room can be accessed during regular work hours only, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. There will be no after hours or weekend access to the area.
  2. This area has card-swipe access. To obtain access – see the General Secretary in Room 1-26 ESB.  Access will not be given until you have completed the EAS WHMIS/Safety Seminar and have been trained in the proper and safe use of the equipment in the Rock Crushing room by Mark Labbe. There is a calendar on the door – you must sign up for the days that you will need the room.  If you do not show up by 9:00 a.m. on the date you signed, the room will be forfeited to the next user.  Consistently not showing up when you have signed up will result in all of your bookings being removed from the calendar.  Your card-swipe access will not open the doors after 4:00 p.m.
  3. Do not allow anyone else access to the Rock Crushing Facility while you are working within the facility.  They must access the room/s with their own card to gain access to this area. Violating this rule could cause your access to be removed.
  4. The Department Technician, Mark Labbe will train all personnel on how to use the equipment in this facility. Mark will require you to sign a training record stating that you have received training and that you understand how to safely operate the equipment. SOP’s for all equipment in the room have been posted. Any subsequent training for special research protocols will be provided by the primary researcher AFTER Mark has completed the initial training.
  5. All personnel will sign the logbook in the room and indicate which crusher or apparatus they are using. REPORT ANY FAULTY EQUIPMENT TO MARK LABBE IMMEDIATELY AT 780-492-7301.
  6. User’s will be required to call their contact person on an hourly basis.
  7. Emergency phone numbers have been posted by the exit to this room. In any emergency situation, call for help immediately. The phone number to the Rock Crushing Room is 780-492-6123
  8. Failure to follow these rules will revoke your privileges to access this facility.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services: 780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

General Procedures for Personal Offices

The Provincial “Working Alone” Regulations took affect on April 30, 2001. The Safety Committee has assessed areas in the department and has assigned a risk level to all areas. Offices have a low, but real, risk level.

During regular hours, 8:­00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there are many people available to assist you in case of emergency. However, when you work alone after hours, or if your office is in a particularly isolated/remote location, the risk increases. In that case you should be aware of your personal vulnerability and take steps to reduce it. You are responsible for your own personal safety.

  1. The most effective means to reduce the personal vulnerability risk is simply to use the “buddy system”, i.e. work with a buddy or co-worker. There is safety in numbers and an immediate support system in the event of an emergency.
  2. If you choose to work alone or if the “buddy system” is not feasible, consider the following:
    1. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You may wish to keep your door locked.
    2. Have a communications plan in place, which can be
      • To simply tell a friend or a family member that you will be working in the lab/office alone/after hours and when you will be returning home. If you do not arrive at the scheduled time, they should contact you to see why you have not arrived home.
      • Utilize Protective Services Lone Worker program @780-4925252 and inform them where you will be working, your time in and estimated time out (they will request this information to enable them to deal with emergencies). Never leave without calling them to report out. For information on the Lone Worker service view their web-page at: Lone Worker Program  and use SAFEWALK to get to your car. Phone 780-492-5563 or 4WALKME.
      • Carry a cell phone.
      • Never let anyone into the building if they do not have their own key.
      • Report any unusual building activities to Protective Services, 780-492-5050.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services: 780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

Working in the Head House Protocols

 

The Provincial Working Alone Regulations are in effect even during regular work hours. The Head House can be a remote location during regular work hours as often there is no one else working on the basement level.  For this reason you are asked to follow one of the w­orking alone procedures below:

  1. Try always to work with a buddy. There is safety in numbers and an immediate support system in the event of an emergency.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  3. Report any unusual building activities to Protective Services @ 780-492 5050.
  4. If you are working alone in the Head House basement you should ensure that someone knows where you are working and when you will return to the lab or your office. If you do not report back on the agreed time, your contact person should check on you.  Be sure to check back with them if you have a change of plans.
  5. Although you may carry a cell phone, you should be aware that some cell phones do not work in the Head House basement area.  Before you rely on your cell phone as a means of communication – check to see if it will work in the Head House basement.  You may have to go to a stairwell to obtain cellphone reception.
  6. The Head House tunnel is accessible from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.  The tunnel is not open on the weekends.  Make sure to remove items from your storage areas during the weekday access times.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services:  780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire and Ambulance

Classroom Protocol / Procedures

The Provincial Working Alone Regulations are in effect after regular work hours. During regular hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there are many people available to assist you in case of an emergency in a classroom or lab. After regular work hours all students utilizing these classro­oms and choosing to work alone should be aware of personal safety issues such as accident, injury, or intrusion by outsiders. Students should have a personal safety system in place and take steps to reduce the risks.

If you are working in a classroom after 4:30 p.m. weekdays or on a weekend you should:

  1. Try always to work with a buddy. There is safety in numbers and an immediate support system in the event of an emergency.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  3. Never let anyone into the building/room who does not have a key/card swipe.
  4. Report any unusual building activities to Protective Services @ 780-492 5050. This is a free phone call when you use the pay phone at the southeast exit of the Earth Science Building.
  5. Call SAFEWALK to be escorted safely to your car. Phone 780-492 5563 or 4WALKME.
  6. If you do plan to work alone you should ensure that someone, i.e. a family member or a friend, knows where you plan to be and when you will arrive home. This person should be prepared to contact you or Protective Services if you are late arriving home. Be sure to contact them if you have a change of plans.
  7. Consider carrying a cell phone so you can contact someone in the event of an emergency.
  8. Protective Services offers the Lone Worker’s Service; a service that is available during the evenings and on weekends when you are working alone. Call 780-492-5252 to sign in and sign out. For information regarding their program view their web-page at: Lone Worker

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services:  780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire and Ambulance

General Procedures for Access to Tory Roof

Working Alone Regulations took affect on April 30, 2001. In compliance, the EAS Safety Committee has assessed the risk levels of all depar­tment areas and the following changes have been made for access to the Tory Roof.

  1. The Roof will be accessed only during regular work hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. There will be no after hours or weekend access to the area.
  2. All persons must have either the Field Support Technician’s or Assistant Chair Administration’s permission to access or install equipment on the Tory Roof.
  3. There is only one key available for this facility. All personnel must sign out the key from the Field Support Technician’s Office, Room 3-88 Tory, phone 780-492-6443. The Field Support Technician will record your time in and your time out, your contact information, Supervisor and reason for access to the roof. The person requiring access must supply a cell phone or other means of communication to be taken with you when you access the roof. If the key is not returned to the Field Support Technician by the end of the day, a search will be done to locate you. Do not allow anyone else access to the facility while you have the key
  4. The alternate contact for Tory Roof access is David Chesterman, CCIS L1-272, 780-492-8494.

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

Protective Services:  780-492-5050

Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

Working Alone Regulations

 

Amendment to the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act

Overview

An amendment to the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (AR448/83) comes into full force on April 30, 2001. This amendment is designed to ensure that adequate measures are taken to pr­otect workers who are working alone. It requires employers to achieve this by:

  1. Assessing all work areas for potential safety hazards and to take measures to eliminate or reduce these hazards
  2. Have an effective communication system available for the worker to summon help in case of an accident or emergency. This requires that everyone who supervises people who may have to work alone in an office, vehicle, lab, shop or field site must assess the hazards and develop guidelines to reduce the risks associated with that work. This legislation does not forbid people from working by themselves.

Background:

The Occupational Health and Safety Act is intended to set standards to protect the health and safety of employees in Alberta. Employers have responsibilities are expected to set up safe work practices and also to ensure that these practices are followed. Workers are also expected to cooperate and follow the rules designed to promote health and safety at the workplace. This is the act that requires WHMIS training for workers to inform them of all the hazards they may encounter while doing their job. The amendment was developed, at least partly, as a result of the death of a convenience-store worker after a robbery in Calgary. However, it has application for many different kinds of job situations.

Definitions and Interpretations:

A worker is considered as “working alone” if the individual is working by his/herself such that assistance is not readily available should some injury, illness or emergency arises.

Alone is interpreted as being out of visual contact with another person for more than a few seconds.

The OH&S Act refers to workers, not just employees; this means that volunteers (unpaid workers) are also covered by the legislation.

The act covers students in laboratories of technical schools and universities and students engaged in on-the-job work experience programs.

Students who are not volunteers or paid for some service are considered to be self-employed. As such, they have a responsibility for complying with the Act but educational institutions like a university are viewed as a prime contractor with responsibility for the worksite that houses all the self-employed students (although the details for responsibility are not altogether clear with respect to students, it is obvious that the University has some accountability for ensuring student safety).

Exemptions: The Act does not apply to:

  • students enrolled in elementary schools
  • students working in a classroom or computer lab
  • students participating in extra curricular activities
  • farmers and ranchers
  • workers working in their own private dwelling
  • domestic workers (nannies, housekeepers)
  • federal government workers and workers in federally-regulated industries (banks, television, radio broadcasting).

What needs to be done if people you supervise are working alone?

Conduct a hazard assessment of the area and work procedures to identify hazards and try to eliminate them. If you cannot eliminate the hazards, then try to minimize or control them. Make sure there is an effective means of communication available to the worker in case help is needed. Ensure that all workers are trained and educated in how they are to do their work safely.

You should also consider an assessment of work in areas like offices or reading rooms where no ‘hazardous activities’ are conducted. In these instances, matters of personal security are likely most important. You could advise someone that you expect to return be a certain time so that they might check on you if you are late. This would be much more important if a person had a medical condition that predisposed them to become incapacitated (e.g. epilepsy). Workers and supervisors need to assess the risk of injury for the individuals in all areas, even those where “activity risks” are considered minimal.

1. Hazard Assessment

In cooperation with the workers, review all aspects of the work that might be done and anticipate the kinds of hazards that might arise. You are looking for risks of occupational injury as well as potential for personal injury from a violent attack.

Review records of past incidents to help identify potential problems

Identify what can be done to eliminate or minimize the hazards.

The assessment should be written and dated. It should be reviewed and updated as needed.

You need a hazard assessment for each different set of conditions. If you have 10 offices with similar activities in each, then one assessment should cover all.

Your assessment might include restricting certain activities until another person is present. This is exactly the same as prohibiting certain activities if workers are not properly trained or if they do not have the appropriate safety equipment. No one should be permitted to work alone in laboratories, you should encourage the use of the buddy system at all times.

Besides injury from personal actions, consider hazards that might arise from other aspects of the work. Are you exposed to personal attack by animals (bears, dogs, elk)? Do you have to travel to remote locations and meet with clients you do not know in their office?

2. Effective Communication:

In case someone needs help, they need access to a means of communication. This does not mean everyone must be issued a cellular phone or radio although these may be a good idea in some situations. Within the department there are telephones in many rooms and most of the pay phones have quick dial buttons to Protective Services and 911. Undergraduate students should be made aware of where telephones are located and who to call (Protective Services personnel know their way around campus while a 911 operator will want your street address; call for help at the University level first). If nothing else is available, a tripped fire alarm will bring assistance.

Field workers present a bigger problem with regard to communication. Cell phones may not work where you are located and you may be out of radio contact. In this case, walkie-talkies, SAT phones or a check-out check-in system might be used. A log book is kept in a base camp and people sign out before they leave indicating route, destination, activity and estimated return time. When they return they check back in. The log must be examined at regular intervals and procedures should have been outlined in case a search has to be mounted. In some cases, a check in routine might be used even if an electronic means of communication is available. If someone is doing highly dangerous work like felling trees or crawling through sewers, they might have hourly contacts with someone. The frequency of contact will depend on the nature of the hazard. Even without electronic communication, regular contact could be achieved using flash-lights or flags if for instance, people were working on opposite sides of a lake.

3. Practical:

The process of conducting a hazard assessment and seeking measures to reduce the risks will take some time. Except in simple situations, the assessment will need to be reviewed and updated as conditions change.

All supervisors need to begin a hazard assessment of any situations where workers may have to work alone. You need to identify potential hazards and consider means to reduce or eliminate the risks. Most of these assessments will include preparing a list of emergency contacts (telephone numbers), how to contact help, and locations of safety equipment and other resources. The assessment must be written and the information communicated to all workers.

Information on the Working Alone Regulations:

For more information, view the Government of Alberta, Workplace Health & Safety at:
http://www.employment.alberta.ca/documents/WHS/WHS-PUB_workingalone.pdf

-or view the Office of Environmental Health & Safety web-site regarding the U of A Policies and procedures:  EH&S link

-the Office of Environmental Health & Safety has developed a Working Alone Template for all U of A office and labs to adapt to their areas. Go to their website at: Working Alone Template to download a copy.   EH&S link

-and view Protective Services Lone Worker Program at: Protective Services

Department of EAS Response to the Working Alone Regulations:

In April, 2001, the EAS Safety Committee did a Safety Audit of all areas in the department. All Faculty were given information on what they needed to do to comply with the Working Alone Regulations for their lab areas or field areas.

As well, the Safety Committee developed a Working Alone Policy for all departmental facilities. The following areas have been assessed and procedures have been implemented: