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Protecting your People - some things to think about for your lone workers and other staff

November 7, 2017

In a previous post we talked about the concept of PIE when it comes to monitoring, alerting and communications for your lone workers, your buildings and your key machinery and other important physical assets. People come to us looking to protect three areas of their business. Either it’s their people – the P – or it’s their infrastructure – the I – or it’s their equipment – the E. Sometimes it’s more than one area, sometimes it’s all of them. This blog post is about the P, protecting your people: your lone workers and your other members of staff.
 
Depending on your country and your industry, you probably have a legal obligation to secure the well-being of your lone workers, especially if you have over a certain number of them. Furthermore, this obligation may mandate the use of certain devices and protocols which are highly resistant to the prevailing conditions. At a high level, you’re interested in knowing answers to the following three key questions:

 

  • Where they are (exactly where they are, in an emergency)

  • When they are there

  • Whether they’re OK where they are

 

6 areas to focus on
 
The nature of your lone workers’ jobs is that they are often in potentially dangerous or threatening situations, and it’s your role to minimise that danger or threat and have in place faultless mechanisms to respond instantly if there’s problem. Let’s look at some of the different scenarios for giving you confidence with the three key questions.
 
Check in/check out – simple solutions to allow your staff to swipe in when they start work and swipe out when they finish, or to do this automatically using their mobiles, enable you to monitor their start and finish times. You can automate alerting for when workers have exceeded the amount of time they’re allowed to work. You want to ensure that all staff are checking themselves in, rather than doing it for absent colleagues as well. Being confident that they really are where the device says they are will ensure you’re getting better value for money but is also invaluable in case there’s an emergency.
 
SOS/alerting – and when there is an emergency you need your people to be able to raise the alarm immediately. If one of your lone workers gets into difficulties, or if another colleague spots a problem, then they need devices which make it easy for them to push an alarm button where they are and let the system take over.
 
Man Down – sometimes your lone workers can’t raise the alarm. Perhaps they’ve been knocked unconscious or had a heart attack, and they’re not in a position to activate the alarm. For this situation you need to provide devices that can detect this and automatically transmit the emergency message.
 
Positioning – this helps you monitor where your key people are, whether it’s inside your buildings or outside, so that you can respond quickly and accurately. The last thing you want is a person down in a vast building full of gantries or large machinery where they could unwittingly be hidden. GPS positioning solutions will help you for outside coverage but is unreliable indoors. For indoor positioning you may need to implement Beacon or WiFi points. For large, outside ‘green field’ areas which are under construction and not yet mapped, you should also consider importing CAD drawings, aerial photographs or charts to help with positioning.
 
Responding – minimising elapsed time is critical when you’re responding to an emergency. As well as equipping your key staff with alerting mechanisms you also need to make sure that your multiple responders are equipped to receive, act on and escalate immediate alerts. In addition, you should consider a system to manage all of the alerting, so that emergency messages are received, processed and relayed as quickly as possible. Using a third party call centre rather than automated direct delivery technology simply adds an extra node, extra cost and extra time to the process.
 
Communication – what communication requirements does the business have? It can be for lone workers and crews to keep in touch with each other, or for alarm-raisers and responders to be in close contact, or for both to be able to talk back to base when they need. You should consider whether you need to provide your key people with dedicated ‘walkie talkie’ devices, or else install Push-to-Talk capabilities on their mobile phones. You can choose from a very large range of devices, and the most appropriate devices will depend on your requirements and the demands of your working conditions or industry.
 
Protecting your other staff

Finally, in some businesses you need to make sure you’re protecting all your staff, not just your lone workers. There are plenty of employees working in factories, manufacturing plants, industrial buildings and offices who are not lone workers and whose safety may be compromised on occasion. You should consider whether it would be useful for your staff to be able to raise the alarm immediately and safely, from wherever they are, if they see a fire, an intrusion, or some other event that presents a danger to them or their colleagues.
 
If you want to know more about the people side of protecting your business, click here or else contact us to discuss your business requirements.

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