Remote or isolated work means work that is isolated from the assistance of others because of the location, time or nature of the work. It often involves long travel times, poor access to resources, or limited communications.
It is more than not getting mobile reception in the lift at the office. Remote or isolated work may include:
- working alone (e.g. cleaning an office afterhours)
- work where it is hard to get help in an emergency
- workplaces that take a long time to enter and exit (e.g. prisons or tower cranes) or a long time to get to (e.g. commuting to remote areas)
- having limited access to resources (e.g. infrequent deliveries and long delays for new supplies)
- reduced access to support networks or missing out on family commitments (e.g. working fly-in fly-out), or
- unreliable or limited communications and technology (e.g. workplaces with no phone reception or where IT systems often go offline).
Identifying and assessing the risks of remote or isolated work
You must identify if psychosocial hazards, including remote or isolated work, are present in your workplace.
- Consult workers. Workers may talk about hazards in different ways. For example, they may say they feel stressed, scared, unsupported or lonely. They may raise concerns about what may happen if something goes wrong.
- Use surveys and tools. Businesses with more than 20 workers may find the People at Work psychosocial risk assessment tool useful.
- Observe work and behaviours. For example, workers being alone or isolated from others, or where they would struggle to get help quickly in an emergency are signs of remote or isolated work.
- Review available information. For example, records of overtime, time off, injuries, incidents or workers’ compensation.
- Have a way for workers to report and encourage reporting. Treating workers’ concerns seriously and respectfully will help encourage reporting.
- Identify other hazards present and consider them together. Hazards can interact and combine to create new, changed or higher risks. For example, remote or isolated work may create a higher risk in workplaces with poor support as both these hazards make it harder for workers to get help.
- Consider how long, how often and how severely workers are exposed to hazards. The longer, more often and worse the remote or isolated work the higher the risk that workers may be harmed.
Controlling remote or isolated work
You must eliminate psychosocial risks, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable. You must also manage the risks associated with remote or isolated work, including providing effective communication with workers doing remote or isolated work.
The Code of Practice: Managing the workplace environment and facilities provides information on how to control the risks including guidance on:
- workplace layout and design
- communication systems
- buddy systems
- movement records, and
- training, information and supervision.
More information is also available at remote or isolated work.
When choosing control measures you must consider all the hazards present and how they may interact and combine. For information on other hazards see psychosocial hazards.
Reviewing control measures
You must review control measures to check they are working as planned. If a control measure is not managing the remote or isolated work, or is creating new risks, you must make changes.
For more information on meeting your WHS duties see our mental health page.