Working alone is prohibited for research purposes, particularly involving hazardous chemicals and experimental procedures. Otherwise, LS or Responsible Faculty Member should prepare guidelines and standard operating procedures (see Standart Operating Proceduressection) highlighting working alone principles, notifying procedures and instances when working alone is strictly forbidden. In cases where working alone is a must, LS/LSS or Responsible Faculty Member should approve the work and experimental setup. Whole procedure should be monitored by surveillance system.
It is strongly advisable to notify someone in the working area, in the next room or in the same floor. A “buddy system” may be established where buddy person performs routine checks on alone users periodically. This is to make sure that a safe experimental procedure is followed. Routine checks may be carried out either by physically or via a phone. A buddy should not be in the same room when the person working alone is carrying out a highly hazardous work. Visual check systems is another option to make sure that working alone is being performed safely or to determine if help is needed.
If an emergency event takes place that involves highly hazardous chemicals and buddy had to leave the lab before the end of experimental procedure, the buddy should notify security (7555). Notification includes name of the person working alone, location of the accident and the time of accident. In addition, buddy warns the person conducting the experiment involving hazardous chemicals so that the person can finish the experiment in the safest manner possible and inform security personnel on the latest condition of the experiment. It is strictly forbidden to use security personnel as a buddy. This will impair the safety of all the people involved.
Please note: For rooms that are locked due to security needs, prior arrangements are required to allow the designated buddy access. It is also important to understand that if the door to the lab does not have a window, or if the window is covered, then there is a chance that if something happened to a person working alone in a locked lab, then they may not be discovered until someone else from the lab goes into the room (which could be a day or more later).
Instances when working alone is permitted includes:
- Office work
- Housekeeping activities
- Assembly or modification of laboratory apparatus. Here, no chemical, electrical, or other physical hazards should be present.
- Routine lab functions as a part of a standard operating procedure.
Instances when a “buddy system” is needed includes:
- Toxic or otherwise hazardous chemicals included experiments
- Experiments involving high-pressure equipment
- Experiments involving large quantities of cryogenic materials
- Experiments involving work with unstable (explosives) materials
- Experiments involving Class 3 or 4 Lasers
- Transfer of large quantities of flammable materials, acids, bases, and other hazardous materials
- Changing out compressed gas cylinders containing hazardous materials
Setting up procedures and policies for working alone is LS’s or Responsible Faculty Member’s responsibility. Every lab user working under corresponding faculty member’s supervision should follow these procedures and policies.