Personal safety

A strong sense of awareness of your own personal safety is very important, not just at work but getting to and from your place of work.

Working alone

Many people in remote places have to work alone. A person is alone at work when they can't be seen or heard by another person. People who work away from other people and settlements, such as employees on farms or stations, or in forest operations, can often be at risk.

People may also have to work alone in towns and cities. They include people who work:

  • where there are no other employees
  • when everyone else has gone home
  • inspecting large structures such as cranes, when nobody else is close by
  • cleaning offices in high rise buildings outside normal business hours
  • in parks and reserves
  • inspecting vacant land for fire

Things that may increase the risks involved with working alone include:

  • how long the person may be working alone
  • what time of day a person may be working alone
  • lack of communication tools such as a telephone
  • the location and accessibility of the work site
  • the skills, experience and character of the person working alone

Some tasks (for example, working with powered tools like chainsaws) should never be done alone. Other tasks must be carefully assessed by employers before they are considered suitable for a lone worker. Arrangements for contact and emergency must always be made before work starts.

To reduce the risk of injury or harm to health, employers should provide information, instruction and training for people who work alone. It is also essential that the person knows the work well, and the work procedures that should be followed.

Key point: Students doing work experience and structured workplace learning must be supervised at all times and would never be expected to work alone.

Work related stress

No job is free from stress. All work involves some responsibilities, problems, demands and pressures that may be stressful. Some level of stress can be expected to occur from time to time in most jobs.

Key point: Stress is usually described as a reaction in people to heavy demands, pressures and expectations. Usually people who are stressed feel a sense of loss of control over their lives, or that they can't cope.

Not all pressure is harmful. People are often kept motivated by challenges and difficulties they face and are able to solve at work. However, there is a limit to how much pressure people can deal with. Performance can drop, mistakes can happen, and the health of the employee may be adversely affected.

Generally, periods of stress don't last very long and will have little or no long-term effect.

When relief from a stressful situation is not available or when the relief is for a short period only, the body has no time to repair, and the stress becomes long lasting and more serious. Long-term problems emerge and recovery time, even with professional help, is much longer.

You should talk to your supervisor if you feel unduly stressed at work.  Employers can do things to reduce work-related stress. This might include making sure workers are treated fairly, or rotating (sharing) the more boring, repetitive or demanding tasks.

Key point: There will always be times at work when you experience some stress. Talking to others about your concerns often eases the pressure. Keeping fit and healthy will increase your ability to deal with stress.

Violence and bullying at work

Workplace violence and bullying is an action, incident or pattern of behaviour that harms, injures or upsets another person. It includes situations where employees and other people are threatened, bullied, intimidated, pushed or struck.  Workplace bullying and harassment should not be tolerated.

Employers must take steps to protect employees and other people in workplaces from incidents that may cause injury or harm, and from situations where they are victimised or bullied.

People who work alone or at night (e.g. taxi drivers, video store attendants) and people who handle things like cash or drugs (e.g. bank tellers, chemists) may face added risks, such as robbery or assault.

If you are bullied, inform the supervisor at your workplace. Employers must take immediate action to stop bullying whenever it is noticed or reported.

Key point: You are not expected to deal with harassment and bullying yourself. Inform your supervisor or someone you can trust.


Students can complete the following Personal Safety activities: