4301 PR.01 Procedures for Principal Investigators for Establishing Working Alone Protocols for Their Laboratories

Revision Date: 
December 20, 2022


1.     Overview

2.     Conducting a Risk Assessment

3.     Monitoring Program

4.     General Guidelines on Working Alone – Information for All Laboratory Members

1. Overview

Policy 4301 Working Alone in Laboratories establishes University-wide standards for Working Alone in Laboratories and authorizes Principal Investigators (“PIs”) to set additional rules and requirements for their own Laboratories.  This document provides guidance for PIs on meeting the policy standards and establishing protocols for Working Alone.

The development of the Laboratory level protocol for Working Alone should be completed by all PIs using the EHS Integrator Working Alone Module, indicating whether Working Alone is allowed in their Laboratory, and if so, whether hazardous materials or equipment are used.  If Working Alone with hazardous materials or equipment is anticipated, the PI should conduct a risk assessment (see Section 2, below) of all procedures or activities to identify and evaluate possible hazards and scenarios that could occur if Working Alone.

All Laboratory Members should be aware of their individual Laboratory’s specific Working Alone protocol.  This includes the activities that may not be performed if Working Alone, those activities that may be allowed if Working Alone, and the means used to monitor Laboratory Members Working Alone.  All Laboratory Members should also be aware of University Policy 4301 Working Alone in Laboratories.

2. Conducting a Risk Assessment

The following questions should be considered when conducting this risk assessment:

  • What are the possible hazards and how will they be mitigated?
  • Will Laboratory Members be adequately prepared to deal with an unexpected situation?
  • Does the research involve working with hazardous materials or equipment where immediate assistance in the event of an accident may be necessary?  Examples of this would be a splash of the chemical to the eye, a fire in the lab, or inhalation exposure.
  • Should a monitoring program be considered and implemented?
  • Do others, who can provide rapid assistance, know that the person will be Working Alone and what they would be doing?  Will these individuals check on them periodically?  How will they be alerted in the event of an accident?
  • Will the Laboratory Members be adequately trained to be Working Alone without senior or other more experienced researchers available for oversight or direction?

Based on their risk assessment the PI will develop a Working Alone protocol for those activities/procedures.  This protocol should be completed in EHS Integrator and communicated to all Laboratory Members.

3. Monitoring Program

Each Laboratory where individuals may potentially Work Alone will need to have a monitoring protocol in place, based on the risk assessment.  For low hazard, routine tasks, the PI may determine that a monitoring program may not be necessary.  However, for other activities or procedures, the Laboratory should have a program established to monitor these lone researchers.  Examples of monitoring programs that may be used include the following methods (these are only examples – other methods determined by the Laboratory may also be utilized):

  • Check-In Systems;
  • Sign-out boards;
  • Cell phone protocol; and/or
  • Devices that can be worn that sound an alert to a continuously manned location.

4. General Guidelines on Working Alone – Information for All Laboratory Members

All Laboratory Members who may Work Alone in a Laboratory should follow these general recommendations:

  • Inform your PI, manager, or supervisor when you will be working during Non-Standard Hours and what you will be doing.  Participate in the risk assessment of this activity with your PI as necessary.
  • In addition to your PI, manager, or supervisor, you should let a friend or family member know where and when you will be Working Alone and ask them to periodically check in on you.
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings.  Wearing ear buds or headphones should be avoided as it reduces situational awareness.
  • Wear required personal protective equipment in the Laboratory, even after hours!  No shorts, skirts, or sandals should ever be worn in the Laboratory, and eye protection is always required.
  • Utilize the Yale Security Walking Escort Service (203-432-9255) to walk you to your car and to and from any point on campus.  The Nighttime Safe Rides program is available from 6pm-6am to take you door to door.
  • Download the free Yale LiveSafe App to use as a personal security device to communicate with the police and for friends and family to temporarily follow your location on a real-time map.