In a previous post we covered 5 potential impacts of adopting manual processes to protecting your lone workers. These were: the human element leading to broken processes, non-compliance and increased risk; the time factor leading to life-threatening delays; reputational and recruitment threats to your business; increased costs from layering on the security overhead; decreases in productivity and ultimately profitability. In this post we look at how to remove these impacts with solutions that take advantage of technology and automation.
The best way to tackle this subject is to outline how an automated process works and explain how it removes each of the manual impacts.
Imagine an organisation with multiple sites and a dispersed force of lone workers, each with different working and protection requirements, both inside the facilities and outside. The organisation equips each lone worker with a multi-function device appropriate to their environment. It uses GPS for outside positioning, and the organisation installs cost-effective indoor positioning technology, such as beacons, to accurately establish the location of lone staff. The devices can use a range of communication protocols, such as Internet, WiFi data, SMS, Push-to-talk and voice.
The organisation uses one monitoring system for all lone workers and the multiple sites. In the event of an issue – which might involve a stricken lone worker, who could be able or unable to activate an alarm, or might involve a fire or security alarm, or even a failure of some key equipment – an alert is automatically sent to the list of first responders in a matter of seconds. The system sends the alarm across multiple communication protocols to make sure it gets through, until a responder acknowledges the alarm and manages the incident. The organisation may already invest in a call centre, response centre or CCTV department, or perhaps switches to these facilities out of normal working hours, in which case the system transmits the alert to the centre or department.
The organisation’s system automatically logs all monitoring, alerts, communications and timings during the operation of the business. This enables the organisation to audit its specific response, demonstrate how it dealt with the issue, and make any improvements necessary from the lessons learned.
Automation removes the possibility of human error. With a system taking care of ‘always on’ monitoring, you take away the chance of a person making a mistake, or not finding the time to check in with staff. This reduces risk, either of non-compliance or of leaving lone workers in vulnerable situations where their welfare isn’t paramount. It also means that you can easily demonstrate that you’re using best practices to protect your lone workers and exercise your duty of care.
When the system knows at all times where your lone workers are, when they are there, and that they’re in good shape, you have a watertight lone worker protection process in place.
Responses measured in seconds
Time is of the essence when there’s a problem. When an alert is triggered, either by the lone worker or on their behalf if they’re not able to, the system processes this alert instantly and relays the alert to the specific first responders according to rules set up in the system. It does this across a range of communication protocols, at the same time, to ensure the alert gets through. This is because there will be situations – like for example a poor signal – where one or more of the communication methods will not work. Using automation means that you can alert a whole team of responders in a matter of seconds, so that they can respond in seconds rather than minutes.
Having an automated response system in place closes the vulnerability window between hourly or longer manual lone worker check-ins. When you eliminate the delay in response times, you save time and you can get to stricken lone workers more quickly.
Good business operations and key staff retention
Investing in a system that automates the protection of your lone workers, from monitoring through to alerting and communications, is good business practice. When you garner a reputation for high standards and for putting staff safety at the top of the tree, your reputation precedes you. It makes it easier for you to attract and retain the best staff, because they know you’re a good employer who has their interests at heart. This can also extend to your relationships with your suppliers and your ability to attract and keep the right customers.
A good protection system is good for the morale of your lone worker staff. They know they are valued, which has a positive effect on the quality and quantity of their output.
Automating the lone worker protection process is simply better maths than hiring someone to do it for you on a full-time basis. Automated systems are on 24/7 and they cost a small fraction of what you spend to retain a full-time member of staff. Furthermore, once you’ve invested in the equipment you’re looking at very low maintenance and support fees in future years. It makes far more financial sense to put your staff to work in the roles where they can add value, while you have technology whirring away in the background, taking care of the hum-drum, highly repetitive nature of monitoring and recording.
If you already make use of call or response centres, or if you have centralised CCTV teams, it’s still a cost effective option to use a system to manage the always on monitoring and wellbeing of your lone workers, and transmitting instant alerts to your third party providers.
When you invest in a system that automatically takes care of your lone workers all the time, good things happen. You save money on doing it manually. You have happier, more effective lone workers. You reduce downtime from costly delays. In the event of an accident or emergency, you can get to the affected lone worker more quickly and they should recover more quickly. Perhaps it also means you can send fully protected lone workers out on jobs where before you had to send pairs or even teams of people. The net effect of all these benefits is an upswing in your productivity and profitability.
This is something we’ll return to in more detail in another post.
Talk to us about how you can remove the impacts of manual processes for protecting your lone workers.