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Protecting Lone Workers with Smart Technology Tools

How Are Mobile Apps Protecting Lone Workers?
24 June 2021 | Updated 06 August 2021

More FM responsibilities are being carried out as isolated activities in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. What tools are available to protect lone workers?

There will always be greater risks for lone workers without direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong, and mobile app solutions are being implemented by companies to keep their employers safe.


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Lone Working Policies


The HSE recommends defining a clear lone working policy. Examples of lone working procedures for employees include attending any training issued by the employer, identifying and reporting incidents, accidents and near misses and carrying a monitoring or safety device when required.

Lone working does not always mean a higher risk of violence, but it does make workers more vulnerable, as the lack of nearby support makes it harder for them to prevent an incident.

Some of the key workplace violence risks include late evening or early morning work, when fewer workers are around, or security staff, who have authority over customers and are enforcing rules.


Protecting Mobile Technicians – Falls From Height


Cloud-based monitoring services such as StaySafe enable employees to check-in safely and request immediate assistance to their exact location in an emergency. 

StaySafe has partnered with JLL, the corporate solutions, property management and real estate organisation, to protect 70 mobile technicians, who work alone and often work from height, and to help quickly locate them and send assistance in an emergency.

JLL hires mobile technicians who support their accounts by carrying out maintenance work at various properties such as roof work, filter changing and coil cleaning. Despite technicians being given fall protection training, any roof work carried out is usually done by one worker and managers were concerned for their safety should an accident arise. 

Don Cameron, CEO at StaySafe commented: “Falls from height are the third-highest cause of fatal injury and account for 20% of all fatal accidents, according to statistics taken from the HSE. With this in mind, we are glad to offer a solution that can provide assistance should a fall happen”. 

Once a session on the StaySafe has been started, managers have a full overview of where their staff are. If an employee fails to check-in safely, has an accident or raises an alert, managers can send help to their exact location. 

The app also has a man-down feature which sends an alert to managers if an employee has not moved for a certain period of time. 


Wearable Smart Buttons


Engineers typically are on call 24/7 and may have to work alone at times that are less sociable. Nightwork comes with a number of risks, including violence and aggression from the public.

Peoplesafe, a technology business centred on the safety of lone and at-risk workers across both public and private sectors, offers a wearable Smart Button to raise an SOS alarm in an emergency.

Using bluetooth technology, the Smart Button is a discreet, compact and wearable mobile panic button that can be clipped to your belt, worn on the wrist or attached to a pendant around your neck. 

Once activated, the panic alarm sends an alert to the  24/7Alarm Receiving Centre where they would gather information about the incident taking place. Based on the situation, the ARC would then call the emergency services, or other appropriate people to respond to the site. 

Panic alarms are best suited to groups such as shift workers commuting during unsociable hours or office workers required to park off-site in remote car parks or residential roads.


Maintaining Compliance for Lone Working


During the risk assessment process, you might identify lone working as a hazard for certain groups or individual members of staff. For these people, a panic alarm is not sufficient to fulfil an employer’s Duty of Care. 

In March 2020, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) updated their guidance on lone workers which requires employers to ‘keep in touch with them and respond to any incident’ and ensure that lone workers are properly trained, monitored and supervised.

Peoplesafe recommends that all lone worker protection services must be accredited to BS 8484:2016 which requires compliance for both the devices and the Alarm Receiving Centre. Moreover, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) ensures that police will only respond to lone worker alarms if the solution provided is certified by audit to BS 8484 — making compliance vital.

Picture: a photograph of a person wearing overalls and a hard hat, sitting on some stairs. They have one arm on their back, indicating they are in pain

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 24 June 2021


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