Business Services Policy - Working in Isolation

This policy provides a risk evaluation framework to ensure the safety of faculty, staff, and students who work, volunteer or perform activities alone in potentially hazardous environments.

 Functional Owner


 Executive Sponsors

 Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance

 Policy Contact

 Assistant Controller


Who This Policy Applies To


Heating Plant Staff



The UW System is committed to providing a safe and healthful higher education environment for students, faculty, staff and other people using UW programs and facilities. As part of this commitment, it is essential that UW System institutions have risk assessments, hazard analyses, and procedures in place for circumstances that may require an individual to work in isolation in a hazardous or potentially hazardous environment or one with high-risk hazards. This includes, but is not limited to teaching and research laboratories, studios and workshops, greenhouses and agricultural fieldwork, areas where grounds and maintenance activities occur, other research facilities, etc.


Emergency Assistance: A means of communication to gain assistance in the event of an emergency involving an accident or serious injury, illness, or threat of violence.  

Hazard Analysis: A job assessment technique to identify hazards before they occur which focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment.  

Hazardous Chemicals: Any chemical which is classified as a physical or health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas or hazard not otherwise classified (29 CFR 1910.1200).  

Hazardous Materials: Any substance or material that may pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety, property, or the environment. 

Hazardous Operations: Activities that may pose a reasonable risk to health, property or the environment. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, operations involving electrical or mechanical hazards, high temperature or extreme weather conditions, hot work, etc. 

Person in Charge of the Work (Supervisor): One who is qualified, has supervisory or management authority or is delegated by an authority to have control of the work such as a Principal Investigator, department manager or supervisor. This qualified person can identify the hazards associated with the work at hand and has the responsibility for safety compliance. 

Potentially Hazardous Environment:  Examples include teaching and research laboratories, studios and workshops, greenhouses and agricultural fieldwork, areas where grounds and maintenance activities occur, other research facilities, etc. 

Working in Isolation: Individuals are working in isolation when they cannot be seen or heard by another qualified individual, cannot expect a visit from another individual within a reasonable amount of time, and/or where assistance is not available when needed.  

Policy Detail

Individuals conducting hazardous operations or using hazardous chemicals or materials within campus laboratories, studios and workshops, research facilities or similar environments ordinarily should not work in isolation. Those performing maintenance or repair of equipment or campus property involving hazardous operations, chemicals or materials ordinarily should not work in isolation. At least one other individual who is knowledgeable of safety equipment and can come to the aid of the worker should be in visual or audible range. This policy does not supersede activities that have more stringent requirements such as permit required confined spaces. 

Individuals may work in isolation if they receive explicit written approval from the person in charge of the work. Written approval may be granted if the person in charge of the work has done the following:  

  1. Conducted a hazard analysis to assess the work area to identify potential or existing hazards, determine if the hazards can be mitigated, and decide whether such activities should be closely monitored, restricted, or disallowed. 
  2. Implemented procedures and corrective actions to eliminate, minimize, or control hazards when individuals are working in isolation.  
  3. Assessed and documented the requirements for emergency equipment, emergency aid, and a means of obtaining emergency assistance based upon the nature and degree of the exposure to the hazard.  
  4. Ensured emergency aid and communications systems are available and compatible with work assignments. This includes providing an effective communication system between any individual who works in isolation and person(s) capable of assisting the individual.  
  5. Ensured a point of contact is aware of the individual’s location and the timeframe they will be at the location while working alone. 
  6. Ensured the individual understands and is fully trained on emergency procedures. 
  7. Educated and trained (document training) the individual on all safety procedures, practices and protocols which include: 
    1. Adherence to appropriate measures established for working in isolation; and 
    2. Awareness of the hazards and the methods used to control or eliminate them so work can be performed safely.  
  8. Evaluated safety measures on a regular basis to ensure that the practices are applicable, effective, compliant and in consideration of any new changes in work tasks or operations.  
  9. Ensured incidents and injuries are reported immediately to the person in charge of the work. 
  10. Ensured all incidents are investigated, corrective action taken when necessary and documented.  
  11. Developed a system, such as after-hour permits or permission forms for undergraduate students, to prevent untrained persons from gaining access to laboratories and other hazardous locations within campus buildings. 



University Responsibility

  • Maintain a copy of submitted Working in Isolation Checklists

Supervisor Responsibility

  • Limit instances where employees, students, and volunteers need to work in isolation in hazardous environments.
  • For instances where employees, students, and volunteers must work in isolation, supervisor has reviewed, completed, and submitted to UWL Risk Management the 'Working in Isolation Checklist' annually for every individual who will be working in isolation in a hazardous environment and attach a 'Job Hazard Analysis Form' for the tasks the individual is performing in isolation.
  • Maintain a copy of each completed Working in Isolation Checklist for the duration that the employee is working in isolation. The checklist and supporting documents need to be accessible at all times for the individual working in isolation. 

Supporting Tools

Links to Related Information

Revision History


Effective: January 1, 2023

Last Reviewed Dates: December 15, 2022



KeywordsWorking in Isolation, Isolation, Risk Management   Doc ID122057
OwnerSpencer G.GroupUW-La Crosse
Created2022-10-21 15:49:44Updated2024-01-17 16:29:11
SitesUW-La Crosse
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