Safeguarding lone workers with technology

Communication amongst teams is an essential part of conducting an efficient, effective and safe business.

But when it comes to selecting a communications device to appropriately safeguard the lone workforce, with a growing number of options, choosing the right solution that addresses the needs of employees and the business as a whole, can be challenging. Businesses need a way to combine different functions, such as communication and lone worker protection into one streamlined device. 

There are a number of considerations to take into account. For example – do staff need to be contactable all of the time? What if employees work in remote parts of a plant alone, in the evenings or at weekends? For those workers to feel safe and the employer to fulfil its duty of care, there must be a way for them to raise an alarm to get the immediate support they require in the event of an emergency. 

Providing lone workers with a communication device to contact staff in an emergency would mitigate some of the risk. But bear in mind that in 2019-2020 there were 20 fatal incidents and 66,000 non-fatal injuries within the manufacturing sector alone. Having a communication device would certainly be better than nothing at all but if a worker falls from height, gets struck by a moving object or comes into contact with machinery – does a communication device offer enough protection? If workers can’t easily inform colleagues where they are, then this form of protection will leave them and the business horribly exposed. 

However, providing staff with a device that can raise alerts and can be triggered automatically should they be rendered unconscious, can ensure that staff are better protected. By combining different functions into one streamlined device, workers don’t need to carry around multiple different handsets, which can lead to unnecessary expenses when addressing lone worker challenges in isolation.

Most importantly, organisations should work with experts to ensure they have the right device for their requirements and infrastructure setup, for example selecting a lone worker device that works in areas with limited mobile connection if required. Additionally, panic buttons, tilt and no-motion sensors and other comprehensive lone worker protection functions can all be integrated into one device. Based on smartphone technology, devices can be compact and robust, capable of reliably transmitting communications and alerts over 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks. 

While technology is important in detecting an emergency situation, the process that follows to ensure a timely and appropriate resolution to an incident is just as critical. If an incident were to happen, how quickly and easily could the emergency services locate and treat the individual? Consideration of how responders can locate the member of staff in an emergency must therefore be a priority. When seconds count, instant communication is critical to ensure a timely resolution – especially if a worker’s life may be at risk. Any lone worker solution should have the ability to provide location information, such as GPS, or for indoor location, WiFi access points or beacons.

There are communication devices available, for example, Smartphones, Digital Radio and IP DECT with integrated lone worker functions to safeguard staff and these can be fine-tuned to suit a business’ requirements – which is essential to ensure that the end solution fully addresses the needs and nuances of a company. By working with an unbiased supplier that adopts a consultative approach, businesses can work collaboratively to analyse these components and ensure they get it right for employees, to maximise productivity and safety simultaneously, and to achieve the optimum level of tailored functionality at ease.

Chris Potts, Marketing Director, ANT Telecom

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