The New Ways to Think About Lone Worker Protection
In this post we look at some of the perhaps unforeseen benefits of new approaches to lone worker protection.
What comes to mind when you think about lone worker protection? If you’re responsible for a team of lone workers, regardless of your industry your first thought is probably safety. The wellbeing of your isolated or solitary workers is top of the list of many people tasked with the health and safety of their workforce. You need to know when they’re working, where they are, that they’re OK and that you have a system in place to respond quickly if there’s a problem. And not just roughly where they are, but exactly where they are, especially if the working environment covers a wide area or is full of equipment and machinery that makes it hard to track them down. Another thought that’s top of mind is necessity. You don’t just need to know where they are and how they’re doing at any point, you have an obligation to do so. In most industrialised countries there is an obligation to do risk assessments on lone worker situations and to have the properly functioning monitoring, alerting and communications systems and processes in place. Compliance can be a very strong driver for lone worker protection. Apart from these two obvious areas, it turns out that there are other ways to think about lone worker protection. Here are four of them.
Coverage Coverage is an important piece of the puzzle. Here we’re talking about not only the coverage across the lone workforce but also across your work places, either outside or inside your buildings, across the different types of monitoring, alerting and communications protocols, and also in terms of signal coverage. In an ideal scenario you need to make sure that your coverage extends across your lone workers, any other members of staff who may need to raise an alarm for reasons of fire or property intrusion, and across a range of communications protocols so you can be sure you can rely on the protection systems and processes implemented. Flexibility Flexibility is a key area of focus too. Industries differ greatly in their operational requirements. No two companies are the same, and even within companies different plants, sites or buildings may have different lone worker conditions. You need a flexible approach so that you can meet the needs of each area, rather than being constrained by a fudged, single approach that covers everyone but doesn’t satisfy anyone. For example, in your main site you could deploy a centralised system that is responsible for monitoring all devices, processing alerts, and providing a communications platform. In each of your sites you can then deploy the specific devices with the specific functionality for that group of lone workers. This way everyone wins: the headquarters gets one system and each site gets the devices most suited to protecting its staff. Visibility Visibility across your lone workers is important. Knowing who’s on site, where they are and if they’re OK by responding to timed alerts helps you deploy your resources more effectively in some situations. It also helps you pinpoint an instant response if there’s an emergency. This should be true for both within your facilities and outside them. With the visibility comes the knowledge of how best to respond. If you have particularly dispersed staff, especially across multiple sites or perhaps along a supply chain, then the benefits of visibility across your business are stronger still. At Isle Systems we have customers who sought visibility across their lone workers, their conventional alarm systems and their machinery and process control equipment. We were able to give them one monitoring, alerting and communications window across their business. Productivity The upshot of this increased coverage, improved flexibility and enhanced visibility is better productivity. Advanced lone worker protection systems can increase lone worker productivity, but also the productivity of the people responsible for their well-being, since they can be freed from managing multiple systems and having to do manual tasks that automation can do for them. In this light it is revealing to see lone worker protection as a way to increase productivity. The right systems can turn a problem – safety or compliance - into an opportunity – increased effectiveness and profitability. With a lone worker system in place, one Isle Systems customer was able to send fully protected lone workers out on smaller projects where it used to send out pairs of workers or even small teams to investigate, allowing it to deploy its resources much more productively. Peace of mind Thinking about your lone worker protection in these new ways leads back to perhaps the prime benefit to you as an employer, an owner-manager or a senior manager – peace of mind. Thanks to developments in technology and creative approaches to traditional problems, you can get this peace of mind affordably. This is because companies like Isle Systems can solve problems with innovation and automation, rather than more people. Click here or contact us to find out more how you can best protect your lone workers.