5 Best Practices For Contractors Working Alone

If you find yourself working alone on a jobsite, follow these best practices for safety and productivity.

As COVID-19 related disruptions continue, working alone to follow social distancing guidelines and compensate for sick employees has become more common. As a contractor, it’s crucial to treat this situation seriously, because working alone presents safety hazards and makes some projects more difficult.

Doing tasks alone, such as laying bricks, replacing windows and installing drywall require extra attentiveness and additional safety precautions. Here are some of the best practices to follow when working at a jobsite by yourself.

Set Up a Check-In System

At all times someone should be aware of where you are and what you’re doing, whether you’re in transit, at the jobsite or picking up supplies. Also, check-in times throughout the day should be established. If you don’t check in at the designated times, someone should be sent to check on you.

A check-in system can be as simple as a phone call or text to another contractor. Or you can use computer software like Housecall Pro, or a mobile app like Builder Trend to track your status. A plan for the steps to be taken when someone hasn’t checked in is equally important. These procedures should include who goes to the jobsite, alternate ways to contact the person, and when to call 911 and emergency contact numbers.

Schedule Low-Risk Tasks

It’s essential to plan your work so that you’re doing lower risk tasks when you’re by yourself. Save the high-risks tasks for days when more than one person is on-site.

Keith Melanson, project manager for Renos Group, says low-risk tasks like preparation work, drywall finishing, painting and cleaning can be done when working alone. On the other hand, high-risk tasks that involve working on a ladder, carrying large material or using sharp heavy tools should only be done when someone else is with you at the jobsite.

Plan and Organize for Efficiency

When working alone, keep an organized work environment to reduce safety hazards and maintain productivity.

“It’s best to organize tasks manually by writing them down to be able to focus on those tasks without anything else in mind,” says Lewis Mayhew, owner of South Scaffolding. “It’s easy to get distracted with one’s thoughts, especially when you have no one to confide in when it comes to work duties.”

Having a written plan for tackling the project at hand (and the necessary safety equipment) is beneficial so you can stay focused and on-task.

Use Helpful Equipment and Tools

No matter the industry, more than likely there are tools and equipment that can replace a second helping hand and make you more productive when working alone.

Melanson says his industry relies on tools like drywall clips and laser measuring devices. “When working alone, you’ll find that you may need something to support the drywall sheet on ceilings,” he says. “Certain styles of drywall clips are great at holding one end of the sheet while screwing in the opposite end, making installation quick and easy.”

Adopt a Safety-First Mindset

When you’ve been doing something for years, it’s easy to ignore safety procedures because you know the ins and outs of the task. When working alone, however, you shouldn’t take any chances. A safety-first mindset is of utmost importance when working alone. Accidents happen all the time on jobsites, so you must be especially careful when you’re the only one there.

If you’re not confident you can safely complete a task without help, don’t do it. Wait until someone can join you and do the task together.

Mark Soto
Mark Soto works for a family-owned company, RoofingMKE, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has comprehensive knowledge of roof installation, repair and replacement and gutter installation. Mark comes from a family of DIYers and has worked with landscapers, plumbers, painters, and damage restoration specialists.