Should He Be Allowed to Work Alone at Night?

Q.My husband works for big water company on shift work where he works nights from 10pm-7am. He is working night shift alone in charge of a water treatment site. Is it illegal to work alone at night?

Ms Sarah Crowle, 24 September 2020


A.Establishing safe working conditions for people who are working alone at night is no different to that of arranging the safety of other employees. It is not illegal to work alone at night, but the employer must make sure that it is safe for employees to do so.

Night Work Risk Assessments

An employer needs to understand the laws that apply to all work related activities. This requires them to identify the hazards of the job and perform a risk assessment to identify safety issues.

Once this is done, the employer needs to implement any safe working arrangements that are needed. This makes sure that any risks are eliminated or effectively controlled. This process must also be carried out in consultation with employees. The person(s) carrying out the job must have received the right training.

An employer must also check that an employee working alone at night has no medical conditions which make them unsuitable for lone working. Medical checkups might be required and the employer would need to factor in things like the employee’s mental and physical ability to cope with the work not only the routine aspects of the job but also the employee’s ability to cope in the event of an emergency.


Safe Working at Night Procedures

Suitable systems or procedures for safe working at night must also be put in place. These should enable the lone worker to be monitored. This could be supervisors coming by to check on the lone worker at designated intervals. A system via radio or mobile phone communication could also be used. In certain circumstances, other devices, such as alarm systems, can be put in place whereby they’re automatically triggered if the lone worker hasn’t responded to a monitoring procedure or there is an absence of activity.


Occupations where Working Alone at Night is Not Allowed

There are certain occupations in which people are not allowed to work alone by law. For example, where there may be a risk of violence or a threat to security. However, there are no hard and fast rules.

The company is entitled to employ your husband as a lone worker if correct procedures were followed. If a proper risk assessment deemed the job safe, it is legal for your husband to work in this way


For further information about this issue, the Health & Safety Executive have a guide to lone working. Our own guide to lone working regulations and risk assessments may also help.

Our hints and tips for staying safe while working alone, also offer practical advice.

30 thoughts on “Should He Be Allowed to Work Alone at Night?

  1. Dinkydoo says:

    Hi I currently work for a security firm and I work night shift alone on a building site there is no electricity is there any regulations my employer has to follow I also don’t get any breaks is this right

  2. Em says:

    I am a female and work in a bar alone most nights and have been followed while taking the bins out one night. I’ve asked my manager to either come and help me close up or get a security guard while I’m closing as I don’t feel safe anymore. But after a few weeks he still hasn’t done anything about it. What should I do/say?

  3. William Macleod says:

    I work for an agency on nights alone. Moving cars.the other night it was frosty so I started one car up to defrost it then got into the other one started it up got I got out and it took off running into the other one damaging both cars .I did not realise it was in gear . There was no one about .I now think they are going to fire me

  4. Sal says:

    Hi Is it legal for two young 20 yr old girls to be working in a shop that is not secure- people can still get in, with no emergency back up, from 11pm- 7 am

  5. Fern says:

    52 bedded unit for a residential/nursing home, 3 staff on usually but two of those staff will be agency next week. Is it my right to refuse to work with two agencies who do not know the building or the residents? My manager is having a talk with me about it and I would like to know of any information. Thanks.

  6. Paj says:

    I work in a steelworks at night (permanent).on my own. There are 4 bandsaws I operate. There’s also an electric station in my department. There’s heavy lifting. I have overhead crane and magnet. Also fork lift truck. The company say all is safe. But I’m not sure. And don’t like saying anything. Advise please. Thank you

  7. Kc says:

    I work in a billard/bar from 5pm to 3am without any other employees. This establishment is known for fights and violence i have no security the owner makes me pay a waitress out my pocket because the establishment is huge i have to run two different registers and clean the entire place including bathrooms i have been followed home before and i have let him know my concerns but he doesnt care what should i do?

  8. Matt says:

    I work in a busy warehouse five days a week.one day a week i am required to work alone but carry out my usual duties. Should i be riding a forklift or pivot steer alone?

  9. Gaza says:

    I work nights in an office, for an haulage company that operate tankers that carry food products, i work alone at night for 10 hours, though i do have drivers returning to the yard around midnight. But on most nights i am on my own for several hours, I do carry an on call mobile phone, but it’s mainly used for people to contact me, if there is a break down or some other issue and I have drivers that collect products in Wales and other parts of the country, that call in around midnight to 02:00 with collected litres. My problem is that the company will give me tasks to carry out through the night that take me out on the yard, like swabbing tankers and it involves me climbing up ladders attached to the side of the tank to get on a small platform, in order for me to get swabs from various parts in the tank, this could be in any weather. I have no harness to attach myself to the tank and to make things even more difficult I have to not only carry the swabs up the ladder but there is an ultra violate light and a large standard torch. If I was to fall it could be hours before anyone found me. Is this acceptable?

  10. Sam says:

    I work in assisted living with people who have mild to severe disabilities two of which are 2:1 ratio as they have physical disabilities and refuse males to do any personal care my problem is I have to do a lone working night which means it’s just me with 10 residents who require help through the night on my own no other staff just me my issue is I have to tablets for my knee which leave me drowsy after telling my employer this they are trying to get me transferd other staff members are also hesitatant to do the waking nights as we think there should be at least 2 members of staff to comply with the duty of care.

  11. gonzalez says:

    I work alone at night in a hotel,I am expected to carry out security checks which means going outside the hotel ,around the out buildings and up and down a metal fire escape 4 times a night.I f I am to have and accident theres no way of anyone knowing,does this seem right to you?

  12. Tomas says:

    Hi, I work in an office building. We rent 1 office from 16 and are the only business working nights. The company wont allow Females to work nights as they say with only 2 members of staff on during the night, 1 female and 1 male is not safe for the female. Are there any laws which cover this? Can the company refuse to have the females working nights, the claim is, if the other person is out of the office 1 female alone is not safe. The office block is locked at night with access via a key code entry.

  13. bill says:

    i work in a shop 5pm until 10pm we are expected to lock the shop and one of us takes the keys home keep over night , nither of us are a team leader or supervisor, all other jobs on the supermarkets website only say key holders are supervisors jobs is this legal

  14. Frog says:

    I work in a club house behind the bar work there for 4 years now I do 2 night and 1 day it’s been ok till last year when we had a few break ins 2 downstairs 1 in cash box and in squash counts is it ok for me to work on my own

  15. Minty says:

    I work for a care agencey that employees walkers as well as drivers now that the nights are getting darker staff feel vulnerable walking the streets on there own to there calls esp when it’s after 8pm sometimes up till 11pm can the company do this ?

  16. Dee says:

    I work lone nights in a semi independent living accommodation , currently with 4 17 – 19 year old residents . It is 24 hour support and I work the night shift alone. Is this safe

  17. Tra says:

    I work alone in a care industry. My boss as asked if we would climb a small step ladder to clean high cupboards. Can I refuse in case I fall. And I am alone

  18. Dazg123 says:

    I work alone in a warehouse from 10pm to 7 am for 5-6 hours of this I work in the ware house and outside loading lorries plus I work in the office around 2.30am trunk lorries come back from the hubs to be unloaded . Is it against the law to be working alone on forklift on nights on your own where there is no one around until 2.30 . No checks are put in place and I have medical conditions such as Diabetes plus just coming in my 4th year of getting over cancer .

  19. Stirrer says:

    Our Supervisor tries to force us to work alone on a cherry picker at night. Working at height changing light fittings. If we complain we get responses like you get paid enough just get on with it. This has been reported to a manager. Managers response was, supervisor in charge of workshop its his decision? Sure this must be wrong

  20. Dee says:

    I work as a care assistant In the care home is it Against the law for me to work on my own with a nurse as we will have a other care but if my Colleague go sick I’ve been told I can work on my own with a nurse

  21. Ketz says:

    My son works nights setting up traffic light systems, the firm he work for wants him to do the night shifts and be on call during the day for emergencies, is this allowed,

  22. Shortie says:

    Is it against health and safety rules for a person who has a mental health issue allowed to work alone in a butchery preparation area . Using knives operating mincers and sausage filling machinery . With no first aides present on premises

  23. Nita says:

    I work at a daycare everyone can go home early but me I must stay until 6pm clean 3 room then lock up the building t am alone in the building is this legal when I started working there I worked until 4pm then we closed because of Covid 19 upon my return everyone went back to their same positions except me my hours and room was changed is this legal

  24. Trish says:

    Hi my daughter as just started a care home job a few months ago on night shift and she’s down on dementia for the first time she worked alone and had cared to do for 27 on her own, is this okay

  25. Al says:

    I’m work for an agency cleaning a college & ive been asked to use graffiti spray & sticker spray with no goggles I’ve also been asked to clean high cupboards by standing on a wobbly stool. I work alone & I’m sure I’m employed to clean things not move things around

  26. Nightworker says:

    Hi I work on my own doing nights for 12 hrs shifts,being asked too do silly things now like empty massive freezers on my own sweeping leaves in dark car park at night in almost no light at all and painting on ladders ? Is this allowed?

  27. Anne says:

    I am working 12 hours in a night shift.I work in a laboratory as a lab technician.I know to do my job perfectly but they didn’t sign off my trainee due a bad relation with my collages.I have been working for 3 years ago now then is it legal? Do I need that they sign the sign off trainee?

  28. Anne says:

    I am working alone 12 hours in a night shift.I work in a laboratory as a lab technician.I know to do my job perfectly but they didn’t sign off my trainee due a bad relation with my collages.I have been working for 3 years ago now then is it legal? Do I need that they sign the sign off trainee?

  29. Martin says:

    Hi, I am disabled and use a wheelchair full time. I have been working 4 on / 4 off 12 hour day shifts for the last 4 years. As from January 2021 my employer wants me to start working nights alone! There is a security guard on site but he’s 100 yards away in the gatehouse. Would this be deemed appropriate?

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