By Mathew Colley, Sales & Marketing Manager, LONEALERT
1. What exactly is a lone worker?
A lone worker is someone who works alone, remotely or who is vulnerable. The word lone worker has evolved in recent years, and in fact the term ‘people at risk’ would be better suited as this encompasses those that work in all industries and in all types of roles. Lone working is about people. And every worker has the right to feel safe as they do their job - whatever job that may be.
2. How does a lone worker device help?
There are a multitude of different solutions, but in a nutshell a lone worker device coupled with an intuitive platform, displaying real time data on lone workers can help to keep lone workers protected. It offers both the employee and the employer a peace of mind that in the event of an incident the right systems are in place to get them help immediately.
3. What are the key considerations for an organisation when selecting lone worker protection for their staff?
The driving force should always be to ensure that the chosen product is fit for purpose for all staff, in whatever job role. Small organisations may find that one type of lone worker device suits all lone workers in their organisation, but a larger company is likely to find different job roles - or indeed personalities - require different solutions or devices. Equipping each individual with the appropriate device - appropriate for risk level and technical competence - goes a long way to maximising staff satisfaction and confidence.
4. In your opinion, how do you think the changes in recent legislation will affect this industry?
There’s still no actual law in place specifically addressing lone working in the UK - but the new legislation is bringing health & safety to the forefront, with employers becoming more and more aware that it is their responsibility to provide a duty of care for their staff or face the consequences of a hefty fine and potentially irrefutably-damaged reputation should the worst happen.
5. Generally, what sort of technology solutions exist for organisations to select from?
There are five main lone worker solutions:
- Telephone-based solutions - landline / smartphone. These use the persons own mobile phone and turn it into a lone worker device, allowing them to raise an alert discretely or log their location and activity.
- Dedicated device based - e.g. fall sensors, dedicated panic buttons that are designed as lone worker protection devices and fulfil that purpose very well.
- Infrastructure solutions - e.g. a base unit and handsets with its own communication channel. These work in fixed locations and generally have a series of pager type devices which operate when within range of a central signaling station.
- Radio-based solutions. These are similar to the infrastructure devices in that they work well across a small area, but can easily move out of range for a mobile workforce. Radio black spots can also exist even in relatively small sites.
- Satellite-based solutions - These are ideal for those working in wider geographic areas with poor mobile signal, enabling people to remain in contact regardless of signal strength.
6. Should an organisation adopt just one method of lone worker monitoring or should they have a mix of solutions?
This does depend largely on the organisation, the role and the risk profiles. Nevertheless it is vital to work with a lone worker solution provider that can offer a mix of solutions and technologies to give an employer the flexibility of devices for their staff, as opposed to a like it or lump it approach.
Furthermore, technology moves quickly and advances offer a lot in lone worker protection devices. So, a company that can keep up with emerging technologies means they can consider the most advanced solutions throughout their contract to protect their employees
7. What advice do you have for employers that employ lone workers?
Look after them! Aside from what we have already discussed about the lone worker solution side, it is vitally important, if not more, that an employer is aware of their staff’s mental health & wellbeing. There are plenty of staff in all types of industries that work long hours alone, day after day and some in very emotionally charged environments which can affect their wellbeing. It is therefore crucial that employers put strategies in place to help these employees if it is needed, as well as keep them protected.
At the end of the day we are all people and only human, accidents that we have had or witnessed and incidents such as verbal & physical abuse we have received will in someway leave its mark on us.
8. Finally, what are your thoughts on how the lone worker protection industry will evolve over the next few years?
There is no need for any fear factor around lone working. As long as lone workers are properly trained and protected with suitable lone worker protection, lone working can actually be the most efficient way for businesses to operate. As well as giving workers the confidence that they are trusted to work alone, and valued enough for you to invest in their protection, lone working enables employers to make the best use of their workforce without wasting personnel by sending two people to a job that could have been completed by one, therefore increasing productivity and allowing workers to stay on site out-of-hours if needed. Devices with in-built GPS mean you can keep an eye on your workers’ safety whilst being able to react most effectively to jobs by sending the closest person available.
It’s simple really: invest in protection for those working alone, and allow your business to benefit.