Remote work refers to work in areas where access to communications and resources is difficult. Additionally, travel time to the workplace or back to the nearest city or town might by lengthy.
Isolated work refers to work in places where there are no or few people around. This can make it exceedingly difficult to seek help from others particularly in an emergency situation. However, there are situations where an employee can be considered working alone or in isolation even though people are close by such as when working from home.
Examples of Remote and Isolated Work:
- Working in remote areas
- Night-shift workers
- Fly in fly out workers
- Working from home
- Working in isolation from other colleagues
- Travelling alone
Risk Management Strategies to deal with remote and isolated work
- Before a worker is being placed in a remote or isolated workspace, ensure that an employer has conducted thorough risk assessment specific to the location to identify hazards and vulnerabilities.
- Make sure that your employer has clear policies and procedures in place that cover the unique risks arising from working in remote or isolated locations. These should include guidelines for communication, emergency response and work-life balance.
Controls your Employer can Implement to Manage Remote and Isolated Work:
- Ensure that workers aren't working alone where possible.
- Create a risk management system for the risks of remote or isolated work
- Set up adequate communication systems that workers always have the ability to communicate with others regardless of location including a nominated back up contact
- Automatic warning devices that raise the alarm in an emergency
- Alternative workspaces provided for those that are working from home in unsafe conditions ie. after a natural disaster or when fleeing domestic violence
Additional resources on remote work
WorkSafe's Workplace and Amenities Compliance Code
OHSRep's working from home advice
Mind Your Head has an excellent database on psychosocial hazards. It breaks down hazards into their impacts and the risk assessment and control measures that can be used. Find it here.
Updated July 2023