I’ll put it out there from the offset - I’m not a fan of Big Brother. That’s the Channel 5 show where they shove a group of strangers in a fake house filled with cameras, film their every move and wait for the fireworks to go off as their personalities clash in an unnatural environment heightened by copious amounts of booze, ridiculous tasks and soul destroying boredom.
But even I, a self confessed hater of reality TV in any form, have failed to escape the furore surrounding this year’s explosive Celebrity Big Brother series.
If you’re among the minority who missed the CBB scandal, I’ll sum it up briefly: One contestant, former Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett, accused her fellow housemate, ex-Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas, of intentionally beating her up. Her accusations went as far as repeatedly describing him as a ‘woman beater’ and demanding he be kicked out of the house because she was so scared in his presence. Describing her ‘ordeal’ in dramatic sobs to her fellow housemates, it was apparent the tide was starting to turn against Ryan, and his utter devastation as the gravity of her accusations started to hit home made for distressing viewing.
BUT. He had not beaten her up.
Thank goodness the ‘incident’ in question had been captured on multiple cameras for the world to see, quite clearly proving he’d been play fighting with pretend punches - as she had previously been doing with another contestant - and had barely touched her, if at all. The video footage proved beyond doubt that his actions were not that of a ‘woman beater’, certainly not motivated by any malice or with any force, and that her response was ridiculously dramatic at best. Poisonous at worst.
The whole unsavoury debacle was brought to a conclusion when she was forced to make an early exit (after hearing the public angrily shouting her name), publicly apologise and resign from various upcoming job roles amid dozens of negative testaments from former co-stars. Meanwhile, he was crowned the winner and has become the nation’s new national treasure after composing himself with unbelievable dignity in the face of absurd and potentially damaging claims.
Reality TV it may be, but make no mistake about it - if this hadn’t been caught on camera, his career, reputation and life would have been left in tatters. And that’s about as real as it gets.
Furthermore, it could be argued that her false accusations belittled the devastating experiences of genuine victims of domestic abuse, who are sadly often too scared to report their attackers for fear of not being taken seriously.
So, what has this got to do with lone workers?
It has always intrigued me that when companies make the decision to implement lone worker protection, there can sometimes be a backlash from some members of the workforce who cry 'Big Brother'.
Despite living in a time where GPS is a way of life and people are generally happy to share every aspect of their existence on social media, there still remains a fear among some workers that lone working devices designed to ensure their safety are being introduced to keep them in check by monitoring their every move.
The fact is they are not. They are there so workers can go about their jobs secure in the knowledge that, should the worst happen, help can be sent to them immediately - wherever they are.
But, it is also true that technology designed to quickly establish if a worker is in distress, and pinpoint their exact location immediately, does have the capacity to monitor workers in every aspect of their working days. Which is why I believe the aforementioned Celebrity Big Brother case has raised some interesting points when it comes to lone worker protection - including the fact that in some instances it could be used to disprove false allegations made against staff.
I have personal experience of this in action.
In one real-life example, a company installed tracking devices on their vehicles. As expected, the first reaction from the workforce was a chorus of complaints. That was until one of the drivers was involved in a collision, which saw a child hit.
Of course, most importantly, the driver checked on the child’s welfare and thankfully they were fine, just a little shocked but with no injuries. Attention then turned to the driver, with witnesses accusing him of driving too fast, despite his insistence that he had been below the speed limit at the time of the collision. Thanks to the tracking device, it was proved beyond all doubt that the driver’s version of events was true and that he was well under the speed limit, exonerating him of any blame and resulting in his - and his employer’s - reputation remaining intact.
There were no complaints about tracking devices from the workforce from that moment.
In another example, staff from a security company faced accusations from a company they were supplying services to after an expensive generator went missing from one of their sites. It was originally believed the generator had been stolen and the company was under suspicion of taking it. However, as all of the company’s staff working on that site were equipped with the LONEALERT Smartphone App, which tracks workers’ movements, they could prove to the site owners and insurance company beyond doubt that they were not responsible as none of the workforce were even in the vicinity when it went missing.
First and foremost, lone worker protection exists to keep workers safe and make sure help can be sent straight away should it ever be needed, not to spy on where they spent their lunch break.
But, maybe ‘Big Brother’ isn’t always such a bad thing. After all, it could potentially protect your reputation as well as your life.
By Mathew Colley, LONEALERT’s Sales & Marketing Manager