The issue of lone working is one that continues to gain prominence in the UK. Despite the strength of understanding about what it means to be a lone worker being higher than ever - coupled with more and more employers realising their Duty of Care to protect their lone working staff, such as providing a simple lone worker policy, there are still many organisations that aren’t yet fully on board with the importance of having effective systems in place to proactively protect them should the worst happen.
Here are some of the reasons organisations - and indeed lone workers themselves - are still reluctant to invest, both financially and mentally, in lone worker protection solutions:
1) Fear of change: Despite the increase in publicity and awareness, lone working as a concept is still a new one for many, as is the range of solutions now available to protect them. Some may have worked alone, untroubled, for years. The idea of introducing new technology, which they are unfamiliar with, can cause concern amongst some workers who believe it will lead to extra workload. The truth is that, despite using complex technology to provide the best protection, the systems available are designed to be simple to use, which is why workers need help making the intellectual leap into what the system does, how easy it is to use and the power it has to help them in times of need. Providing appropriate staff training will soften these fears.
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2) Fear of setting off alarms: Experience shows that one of the main factors affecting a lone worker’s acceptance of the introduction of lone worker protection is a fear of accidentally setting off alarms and escalating response procedures unnecessarily. Some have voiced concerns that emergency services will be called if they accidentally set off alarms, which discourages them from actually using them. A sympathetic and understanding approach from employers is usually all it will take to reassure staff that there is no need to fear. Escalation and response procedures are pre-programmed to ensure false alarms are accounted for if required, giving users the chance to cancel alarms if they have been set off in error. Our fully qualified staff in our 24/7 ARC are highly trained to determine the severity of a situation and can scale down an escalation if needed, without emergency responders ever being notified.
3) Big Brother: A core function of all lone worker protection systems is GPS. If it was not, how else could help be sent to the right location if help was needed? When the subject of lone worker protection is raised, a common concern is ‘Big Brother’. Some staff fear the tracking capabilities of these protection systems will be used to ‘spy’ on them, rather than for their actual purpose of providing accurate locations in times of need. It is important for all employers to reassure staff by illustrating that the reason for investing in such systems is to ensure their safety - not to track their every move in order to remove the fear of ‘Big Brother’.
LONEALERT O.W.L - See it in action at the Health & Safety Event, NEC April 9th to 11th, Stand N30!
4) Unaware of the risks: This applies to both lone workers themselves, as well as the organisations who employ them. Not every lone worker spends their entire working lives completely alone, or in isolated and potentially hazardous locations, which is why the term ‘lone worker’ occupies such a grey space. Lone working is not black and white.Just because a warehouse worker is part of a 500-strong workforce does not mean they are not a lone worker, as their role may involve taking a stock check in an isolated room without mobile signal on the opposite side of a sprawling complex away from their colleagues, for example, Because of the many variables involved, it is common for organisations, and indeed the workers themselves, to not even realise the term ‘lone worker’ applies to them. It is vitally important that both management and the lone workers understand the risks involved in their roles, and the protection solutions available to negate these risks, in order for any solutions to be effective.
5) Cost: One of the main factors why organisations still choose to not invest in lone worker protection systems is the cost. There is a misconception that effective protection is a costly exercise, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are a number of ways to introduce effective solutions on a budget, including making use of workers’ existing communications systems, such as lone working Apps through your smartphone or text-in services, pooling dedicated devices among workforces, and utilising staff on site as designated ‘responders’ should alarms be activated.
We’re delighted to be exhibiting again at the Health and Safety Event on Stand N30 from April 9th to April 11th at the NEC, Birmingham. Come along to speak to us about our lone working device range, and be among the first to see the next generation of our lone working system in action - The O.W.L! Tweet us @LONEALERT using the hashtag #LoneWorking.
You may also find the following of interest...
- LONEALERT at the Health and Safety Expo 2019
- The business efficiencies of lone working (Video/Podcast)
- 5 reasons why training is vital for effective lone worker protection - and how to implement it
- 5 reasons why staff and organisations are reluctant to invest in lone worker protection systems, and how to overcome them
- Allow your lone working staff to work smarter
- Introducing LONEALERT O.W.L: The next generation of lone worker protection
Clive is scheduled to speak on Thursday 11th April 2019 at the Health & Safety Event, NEC, Birmingham. For more information please contact LONEALERT on 0330 999 8484