General safety

Working alone | Safety data sheets (SDS) | Smoking | Guidelines on wearing scented products

Working alone

Working alone under certain circumstances can increase an individuals' risk to health and safety.


  1. Working alone, especially after regular business hours, should be avoided whenever possible
  2. Working alone requires supervisor/PI knowledge or approval
  3. Approval for working alone or after normal hours must consider:
  • Tasks and hazards involved in the worst case scenarios
  • The possibility of an incident or injury that would prevent an individual from calling for help
  • The individual's training and experience level
  • The time the work is to be conducted
  • Access to emergency assistance
  1. Conduct a risk assessment as per the guideline, identifying the hazards involved and safety protocols in place
  • High risk: Working alone prohibited as per applicable regulation
  • Moderate risk: Each area must develop a standard operating procedure for working alone, including materials, equipment, and processes that may not be used and security measures to protect against theft, property damage, or personal injury due to an intruder. All individuals who are approved to work alone must be trained on the SOP.
  • Low risk: May work alone, however minimal precautions are required including periodic check-in (supervisor or UW police), access to phone and security measures to protect against theft, property damage, or personal injury due to intruder. Individuals should follow the University police personal safety guide. A campus safety app is also available for download, which includes emergency tools, notifications, and tips for staying safe.

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Working alone risk assessment

High risk - Working alone prohibited

  • Confined space entry
  • Electrical Systems rated at more than 750 volts
  • Trenches
  • Portable ladder that exceeds 6 metres in length and is not securely fastened, or work with a ladder that is likely to be endangered by traffic
  • Use of fall arrest equipment (without travel restraint) or scaffolds
  • Use of fall arrest equipment (without travel restraint) or scaffolds
  • Machines and power tools that may cause critical injury (e.g. lathe, table saw, chain saw)
  • Work with acutely toxic material (e.g. cyanides, fumigants, hydrofluoric acid) as described in safety data sheet (SDS)
  • Use of supplied air or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
  • Risk of drowning
  • Use of a vehicle, boom or similar equipment near live power lines where it is possible for any part of the equipment or its load to make contact with the live power line
  • Open flame associated with flammable solvents
  • Hot work where a fire watch is required
  • Other tasks which , based on hazard analysis, is deemed to require mor than one other person for safety reasons

Moderate risk

Presence of others is recommended (within shouting distance) and standard operating procedure is required

  • Large volumes of chemicals
  • X-rays
  • Radioactive materials (above exempt quantities)
  • Exposed, energized electrical systems
  • Risk group 2 biohazard labs
  • Class 3B and 4 lasers
  • Work with materials acutely hazardous to health
  • Work with human subjects
  • Extreme temperature environments
  • Handling of cash
  • Dealing directly with public
  • Work in isolated areas (fieldwork)

Low risk

May work alone

  • Custodial work
  • Building maintenance with low risk
  • Laboratory work with minimal risk (analytical equipment, monitoring equipment or process, work not involving hazardous materials)
  • Routine office work or study

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Safety data sheets (SDS)

Safety data sheets (SDS) provide information about chemical and toxicological properties and hazards, and recommended handling and emergency procedures. SDSs must be available for all controlled products in labs.
Hazardous materials likely to be found in labs include:
  • Industrial/household cleaners

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“Smoking” means the act of holding a smoking device, for the purpose of burning, vaporising, inhaling or exhaling any substance.

“Smoking device” means a cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah, or other apparatus used for smoking substances, including e-cigarettes.

Smoking/vaporizing of tobacco products is not permitted in any University building or vehicle nor in areas within 10 metres of all buildings.

Smoking of cannabis is not permitted on University property, except for the purposes of medicinal use, which may occur only with appropriate documentation provided to the University

If smoking persists in a no smoking area:

  1. Faculty and staff - advise your department management/supervisor.
  2. Students - advise your department administrative contact or Dean's Office.

In public areas UW police services shall assist line management with enforcement.

For individuals 19 years of age and over, up to 30 grams of cannabis product can be stored in a sealed container.

Growing or cultivating cannabis plants on campus is not permitted.

It is illegal to drive while drug-impaired.

Employees must be fit for work at all times, and working under the influence of cannabis will not be tolerated. An employee who appears to be under the influence will be sent home via taxi and scheduled to meet with their supervisor and Human Resources the following day.

See Policy 29 for more information.

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Guidelines on wearing scented products

Some people have become very sensitive to certain chemicals as a result of past exposures. They can suffer a wide rage of health effects such as rashes, severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue whenever they are exposed to very low levels of chemicals in scented products.

Be sensitive to others and try to avoid wearing scented products when interacting with others. If you have any concerns regarding scented products, talk to your supervisor.

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