There are lone worker solutions available for every industry and budget. But there’s no point having them at all if your workers aren’t using them. Mathew Colley, Sales & Marketing Manager at LONEALERT, discusses why some workers still have their doubts about lone worker protection and why it’s vital to get them on board.
If you want to find out how your best friend is spending their evening you probably only need to log on to Facebook. There’ll you’ll see that they’ve popped for a pint in the local and have taken a snapshot of the occasion for good measure.
Want to know your cousin’s view on England’s World Cup performance, the latest celebrity to clash with Piers Morgan or what Tony in the warehouse thinks about Brexit? Simple. Log on to Twitter and everything you want to know will be there - alongside the opinions/comments/holiday photos of thousands of people you’ll never meet. You’ll probably even know that Jane in accounts has had an epiphany to dye her hair whilst sitting in Wetherspoons in Blackpool, be-cause she tagged herself in there 10 minutes earlier.
Add Instagram and Snapchat to the mix and you can get a pretty good idea of everything everyone you’ve ever had any contact with is doing at any moment of the day.
People are doing the same stuff they always did but are now sharing it with the world.
Thanks to the power of social media, nothing’s really sacred any more. This is why it can sometimes be baffling when the reaction to workplaces implementing lone worker protection devices is a backlash from some members of staff 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, 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 that 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.
As an employer ask yourself this:
How easily could one of your workers be located if they injured themselves or got attacked whilst out on their rounds?
Your worker said they’d be in a particular street but have not checked in for over three hours and you’re worried - so which one of the dozens of properties in that road do you go to? Where would you start looking if a member of your team failed to return from a day out on the road when their patch covers 100 square miles? If you are an employee whose job sees you working in remote, vast or varied locations then ask yourself this: If something happens to me, how is anyone going to know where to find me and send help?
Having lone worker protection is vital. It is there to protect workers and to protect businesses. It is a sign that employers take their responsibilities of Duty of Care to their staff extremely seriously whilst reassuring workers and their families that should an incident occur, they can raise the alarm and get help.
But simply having lone worker protection in place is completely pointless if the workers it has been introduced to pro-tect are failing to utilise it because they have not bought into the reasons for introducing it.
Choosing the right lone worker protection for any workforce is imperative. A ‘Man Down’ device designed to detect falls would be perfect for the engineer who spends his days up telegraph poles but ineffective for the social worker visiting strangers’ homes, for example. This is why extensive trialling of different solutions, devices and responses may be required initially to ensure that the lone worker protection perfectly meets the needs, demands and expectations of the business and its workers. In many cases, one organisation chooses to introduce a mixture of devices, solutions and response escalation procedures for different workers to best suit their roles, whilst some will choose to stagger the roll-out among departments to ensure any teething issues are properly dealt in small sections rather than an entire work-force in one go, some solutions can be as simple as checking in on a smartphone app.
Having the workforce involved from the very beginning is imperative for the long-term success of any lone worker pro-tection system. It is, after all, them that will be making use of the devices and solutions being introduced.
As well as fears of ‘Big Brother’, other common causes for concern among employees when lone worker protection is introduced include those with ‘techno-fears’ over complex systems or even worries that they will be penalised for acci-dentally raising false alarms.
But by empowering the workforce to be part of the decision-making process from the onset, they are much more likely to buy in to the system, whilst being reassured that the introduction of such devices are meant as a safety aid, not a burden, and indeed not as a spying tool. Continuing this engagement with staff, urging them to provide feedback and listening to their concerns, queries and suggestions, whilst rewarding those who make the most use of the system, is vital to ensure the lone worker protection is being fully and properly utilised.
Despite using complex behind-the-scenes technology, many lone worker devices are very simple to use, including those that use smartphones which the majority of the workplace will already use. Regardless of this, whilst implementing any lone worker protection, it is vital that thorough training is given to all workers who will be using the system to ensure they know exactly how to use the devices and give confidence to those with techno fears. Training sessions should con-tinue after initial implementation so staff are up-to-date with any developments to the software or system, and ensure new starters are fully briefed on how to properly use it.
Implementing lone worker protection can initially be a big deal for any workforce, and fears of highly-complex devices or cries of ‘Big Brother’ are all-too-common at first. But it is important they know that lone worker protection exists to them safe at work and make sure help can be sent straight away should it ever be needed, not to spy on where they spent their lunch break. That information’s probably on Facebook anyway.