Manual Approaches to Lone Worker Protection - Part 2
In a previous post we looked at a range of ways companies use manual processes to make sure they’re providing a duty of care to their employees, thereby complying with the relevant health and safety legislation for their country. Paper, clocking in and out, whiteboard notifications, people checking in with their lone workers and recording times, locations and wellbeing: these are all manual elements of the monitoring side of protecting your key staff.
But what happens if there’s a problem? How does that duty of care work now? In this post we look at how companies typically take care of the processes for alerting, responding and communicating.
Raising the Alarm
At the minimum level, companies need to document the processes for raising an alarm and alerting the relevant responder or responders. Let’s break this down into what needs to happen. In some situations the lone worker can raise the alarm themselves, if they carry a mobile phone or another means of communicating their difficulty. If the lone worker becomes incapacitated for any other reason and can’t alert anyone, then somebody else needs to raise the alarm for them.
Any process needs to address a number of key questions. What do you do – if you're the lone worker or the person checking in on the lone worker – if there’s a problem? Who do you call? Where are you, exactly? What information do you relay? Who do you call if you can’t get the first responder? What’s the escalation order for other people or third parties you need to call? Documentation, training and reinforcement are essential for successfully implementing an emergency response.
Responding to the Alarm
Some companies keep a written list of who the responders are, others might maintain this on a spreadsheet or other kind of digital file. Companies document who should respond, how they should respond, what internal or external emergency or medical services should be contacted and within what timeframe.
Who closes out this emergency event process? How is the complete event documented? Who attends the review of what happened and how you responded? How do you put in place improvements to make sure this kind of event doesn’t happen again? What procedures are in place to provide care and counselling services to the lone worker, their family, their colleagues? For many companies, these aspects of ‘closing the loop’ are an entirely manual process involving documents, meetings and reports.
Communication during an emergency event
Finally, companies need to demonstrate that they have adequate communication protocols in place for dealing with an emergency event. In a manual approach, there is the triggering of audible alarms – fire, intruder, lone worker down, and so on – as well as regular dialogue through face-to-face conversations, mobile telephone, landline telephone or ‘walkie talkie’ and other radio communications. Typically, the company handbook will address which protocols should be used when.
At the back end, there is also a manual requirement to capture all this communication, record it and pull it together into a full incident report. In many cases, the person with health and safety responsibility is charged with presenting all the information on an emergency event, reviewing the lessons learned and implementing changes to prevent or at least significantly reduce the possibility of a reoccurrence.
Talk to us about your manual processes for keeping your lone workers safe, and how you can improve them.