Lone worker protection is a set of procedures, devices and risk assessments that are put in place to ensure workers who work alone remain safe and secure.
That can mean: helping to prevent accidents; providing a quick response if an accident does happen; keeping staff members safe when they go to private client meetings, or keeping premises secure whilst workers work alone.
A lot of people assume that lone workers are simply maintenance staff that attends sites out-of-hours and alone. In fact, anyone who works as an individual, or is alone when in a work capacity, is classified as a lone worker. That includes everyone from those who man the checkout at a petrol station after hours through to office workers who travel to business meetings alone.
What are an employer’s lone worker protection responsibilities?
It is the employer’s responsibility to protect their employees whilst they are in a working capacity – and that means they have to protect employees who work in isolation too. In fact, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, clearly state that employers must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety and security of their employees.
The Health and Safety Executive’s website covers all the information employees will need to know about lone worker protection, for example their corporate manslaughter page includes descriptions, resources and FAQs.
But how does lone worker protection really work? And what can you do to make sure lone workers stay safe and secure?
We’ve put together a few ways that lone worker protection can work, to help ensure employees have complete peace-of-mind whilst they work alone. We’ve focussed on the use of a lone worker device here, such as the Geonovo Romad RSP-100 device. You can find out more about our lone worker protection services. We currently support the Geonovo Romad to provide lone worker protection for many employees across the UK.
- Always keep in mind what kind of environment a lone worker will be working in. This will affect the way that lone worker protection will run to ensure the safety of employees. For example, will the worker be in an area that has poor mobile phone coverage? Or will they be constantly travelling and in different locations all day, such as a delivery driver?
If there’s poor mobile phone signal, or even difficulty in using GPS tracking if a worker is indoors, then you will need a lone worker device that covers ‘black-spots’. Lone worker devices often have several features that can overcome these issues – ensuring that out-of-range workers are still within reach.
If a worker is travelling from location to location you will want to opt for a device that is GPS enabled. GPS stands for global positioning system, and it’s what your satnav uses to pinpoint your location. If a lone worker device is GPS enabled then an employee who carries the device can be located at any time or at intervals. For example, our software issues alerts and receives the responses from lone worker devices, which the Farsight operators monitor. These alerts are issued in regular 15 minute intervals.
- A ‘ManDown’ feature on a lone worker device should work to instigate a response if a worker is non-responsive and possibly in danger. A ‘ManDown’ feature will issue alerts (a ringtone, vibration or both) at regular intervals. These alerts signify to the worker that they need to ‘check-in’, which is a simple response such as the push of a button.
If a worker does not respond to an alert, then a series of alerts in quick succession will be issued. If none of these alerts are responded to then action will be taken. A good lone worker protection device should work by allowing the employer to customize what action should be taken when no response is received. For example, they may wish the emergency services to be immediately contacted, or in our case, the device contacts the Farsight Observatory.
From there the security operator will receive a priority alarm, which is responded to immediately. The operators will assess the situation and instigate a two-way voice conversation via the device. In some instances they may record what is happening whilst alerting the emergency services. The operators are fully trained to respond in the most appropriate and effective manner.
- The two-way voice capability of a lone worker device is also essential. It allows users to make calls to a specific set of numbers. These numbers are pre-programmed so social calls cannot be made via the device and the essential numbers will always be available.
A two-way voice call can be used to leave a voicemail message at the alarm-receiving centre. This will flag up as an amber alarm, and the operator will listen to the voicemail and act upon it as necessary.
Alternatively, if the SOS button is pushed a call will be made to the alarm-receiving centre or individual. This call will be made to a dedicated phone and well-trained operators will answer the call, but remain silent. This means that the SOS call will not attract attention if the worker is in immediate danger. Instead, the operator will listen attentively and act appropriately.
- A lone worker device should also be hardwearing and resilient. Many people assume that a mobile phone has all the same capabilities as a mobile phone when in fact they behave in very different ways (as you can see in the image of the Geonovo Romad device).
This blog only lightly touches on the issues surrounding lone worker protection, and understanding how lone worker devices really work. However, it does show the utmost importance of having an effective, specially designed lone worker device to keep employees safe when they are out sight and earshot of other colleagues.