Posts related to lone worker solutions.

Wellington City Council chooses StaySafe as their dedicated lone worker solution during lock-down

Wellington City Council choose StaySafe as their dedicated lone worker solution during lock-down

Wellington City Council is a local authority working to facilitate the ongoing development of Wellington and the surrounding areas. 

Wellington City Council has partnered with StaySafe, the innovative lone working solution, to protect the safety of staff that could be at risk during the pandemic. Having been a StaySafe user since 2018, Wellington City Council elected to extend the use of the solution when the country was in lockdown and staff had to travel on rural roads with limited mobile coverage. The partnership allows Wellington City Council to ensure their staff are safe, even in the most remote locations. 

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern first announced lockdown across New Zealand in March, all non-essential workers were expected to work from home. Wellington City Council provided a courier service to deliver IT equipment to staff in and around the surrounding area. Managers became concerned for the wellbeing of the couriers as the role required them to travel to different, often rural, locations alone. If an accident were to happen on the road, couriers may not have phone signal and be able to call for help. In addition to this, couriers often have to lift heavy equipment alone and if they had a fall or were injured, managers wanted to be sure they were notified so they could send assistance. 

Prior to StaySafe, the company relied on manual methods of checking in with couriers, including regular phone calls every three to four hours. However, during lock-down, managers realised that this method wasn’t robust enough and didn’t provide the courier with a way to signal for help if in danger.  Since launching StaySafe, managers are now confident that their couriers will be safe whilst out on the road. Employees are able to start a timed session before they begin a period of lone work or travel. StaySafe’s handy check-in feature allows staff to communicate they are safe by simply pressing a button. 

The app provides man-down alerts so that managers can detect if an employee has not moved for a prolonged period of time and contact them to confirm they are safe. StaySafe’s panic alert feature provides employees with a way to quickly notify a manager if they are in a dangerous situation. Their manager can then immediately send assistance to them. If couriers are in an area with minimal coverage, the app will automatically switch to low-signal mode and alerts will continue to be sent to the Hub via SMS. 

Joe McDonald, Recreational Coordinator at Wellington City council comments, “The StaySafe app has been a great addition to our current health and safety measures.  StaySafe rolled out the implementation quickly and our account manager was on hand to answer any questions we had. The app is easy to use and the low signal mode gives us confidence that staff will be protected even in areas of poor phone coverage. We feel much safer knowing that staff can signal for help if any accidents were to happen at work”.

Don Cameron, CEO at StaySafe adds, “During the pandemic, organisations are adopting new ways of working, with many employers responsible for lone and remote workers for the first time. Lone workers are particularly vulnerable in the event of an accident as there is no one to raise the alarm.  StaySafe offers peace of mind to both employers and staff that if an incident occurs, they can respond quickly and accurately to prevent situations from escalating”.

UK police warning on dangers of lanyards

Many organisations provide their employees with lone worker solutions attached to a lanyard and worn around their neck. However, UK police have recently released a warning on the potential dangers of wearing a lanyard while driving.

Dorset police released the warning on social media following a couple of serious traffic accidents which were made worse by the use of lanyards, and which left the drivers seriously injured.

In one incident, a driver was involved in a minor car accident but was left with a collapsed lung when the force of the deployed airbag pushed the lanyard into the driver’s chest. Had the driver not been wearing their lanyard at the time, they would have likely walked away relatively unharmed.

In another incident, an NHS worker was wearing a lanyard along with a set of keys for her medicine cabinets and lockers. This time the force of the airbags caused the keys to perforate the driver’s bowel. The injury resulted in a hospital stay of over 6 weeks, and 6 months of missed work.

Wearing lanyards while driving is a little known hazard that all employees should be aware of. The police advise those wearing lanyards to remove them before starting their journey home, in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

Safety lanyard dangers

Driving is not the only situation where the use of lanyards can pose a safety risk. A risk assessment should be used to assess whether the use of lanyards pose a safety risk to employees so that a safer alternative can be considered. Below are just some of the main risks associated with lanyards:

Operating Machinery

Those working around machinery and large equipment should not wear lanyards due to the risk of them getting stuck and causing serious injury to the wearer. In one incident in Texas, a woman died while operating a conveyor at her job in a pawnshop. The lanyard got caught in the conveyor and pulled her in until she couldn’t breathe. The woman was working in the room alone and wasn’t found by colleagues until it was too late.

Violence and aggression

Those at risk of violence and aggression should also consider alternatives to lanyards as they can be used as a weapon to pull or strangle an employee. There are many cases of this happening in public-facing sectors such as health care where lanyards have been used by patients to attack the employee caring for them.

One well known case is Napa State Hospital in California. Employees working at the hospital are required to wear safety alarm devices around their necks on a lanyard. However, employees were left frightened of wearing the lanyards after a colleague was strangled to death by a patient. The patient hadn’t used the lanyard to kill the technician but other incidents had occurred where employees had been pulled from behind or assaulted using the lanyard. Following the homicide, the hospital introduced breakaway lanyards yet employees voiced concerns that the length of the lanyard could still be used to strangle them.

Spreading Infection

Lanyards and ID badges also pose a risk of infection and spreading of disease for those working within the healthcare sector. A study published in The Medical Journal of Australia, found that the superbug MRSA, which kills more than 700 patients a year, lives on about 10% of name tags and lanyards worn by doctors and nurses. The lanyards analysed in the study were found to carry 10 times more bacterial load of the badges.

The author of the study attributed lanyards position at waist level, pendulous nature and long periods of time without cleaning to the high levels of bacteria. Worryingly, the bacteria is able to survive on fabrics and plastic surfaces for up to 90 days, providing plenty of time for the bacteria to spread.

Lone worker apps: a safe alternative to lanyards

Providing your employees with lanyards can lead to resistance due to the associated risks.

While the advice of removing a lanyard before driving should definitely be followed, for those regularly driving for work this could cause a great inconvenience as the likelihood is, the employee will either forget to remove the lanyard or forget to put it on every time they leave their car.

In general, lanyards can also get caught on everyday objects such as table corners, door handles and clothing. This can result in employees deciding not to wear their lanyard or the lanyard breaking and not being replaced. When using a lanyard for a safety alarm or lone worker device, this can leave the employee unprotected as they work.

Fortunately, lone worker apps offer a safer and more reliable alternative to dedicated lone worker devices worn on lanyards.

Lone worker apps come in an accessible and familiar form by being downloaded straight onto an employee’s phone. Mobile phones are one of the few things everyone remembers to take with them wherever they go, so turning it into a safety device ensures lone workers are always protected. Plus, the advancement in mobile technology means that apps can offer all the functionality of a wearable device, and more.

StaySafe’s lone worker app

At StaySafe, we offer an easy to use lone worker app and monitoring solution. The app ensures lone workers always have a way to signal for help in an emergency, while real time monitoring on the Hub allows help to be sent straight to their location.

A panic alarm can be triggered by the lone worker at any time, while missed check-in and non-movement alerts ensures an alarm is raised even if the lone worker is incapacitated and unable to do so themselves.

Many of our customers have switched from using a lanyard based solution to an app based solution due to the reliability of the latter. Previously, employers consistently found that their lone workers weren’t using their lanyard devices to protect themselves at work, either due to forgetfulness or concerns about the risks. However, there is significantly less user resistance when using apps compared to separate lone worker devices.  

Find out more about our lone worker app

If your employees are working in a role where a device may be easier to use, such as construction or social care, we also offer a wearable bluetooth button that can be used to conveniently and discreetly operate the app from a strap on the wrist or clipped to clothing.

Find out more about StaySafe here.

Learn about available approaches to lone worker monitoring

Lone worker monitoring

Lone worker monitoring refers to the practice of monitoring the safety of employees who work alone or out of sight and sound of colleagues.

There are a number of systems that can be used to monitor work alone employees, many of which will use a method of check-in, and in some cases, location tracking and emergency alerts.

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How advances in mobile apps and wearable technology can help employers monitor & protect lone working and remote staff

A solid lone worker safety solution is crucial in today’s modern mobile workforce.

Every 15 seconds, 151 people suffer a workplace accident and every year, 321,000 people lose their lives at work, according to statistics taken from the International Labor Organization. This seems inconceivable, particularly as most workplace accidents are preventable. So why, in an age of perpetual advances in almost every sector, are we still failing to protect our employees and how can we change this?  

Workplace accidents often occur due to a lack of health and safety policies and risk assessments within the workplace. Without thorough risk assessments in place, employers are unable to identify the risks that their staff face and put plans in place to help avoid them. 

As health and safety legislators continue to crack down on workplace negligence, employers are under increasing pressure to ensure their workers are kept safe. In this article, we explore how advances in mobile app technology can help companies overcome common safety challenges by delivering a fit for purpose lone worker safety solution.

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StaySafe partners with what3words to help keep lone workers safe

  • StaySafe clients can now provide the what3words location of their lone workers in an emergency to help identify their location faster
  • what3words has broken down the world into 3x3m squares, and assigned each one three words from the dictionary. ///unfold.majorly.encore, for example, will take you to a precise spot on the NZ’s busy Southern Motorway
  • Responders around the country are now using the system to respond to incidents more effectively

StaySafe, the workplace safety solutions provider, has partnered with location technology company, what3words, to help companies respond to incidents more effectively.

StaySafe’s easy-to-use lone working app enables employers to quickly and easily locate lone workers in an emergency and send immediate help. With the new what3words integration, employers can communicate the precise location of their lone workers to emergency responders easily and accurately – using just three words.

In an emergency, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical. If lone workers suffer injuries or face aggression whilst at work, their employers may be unaware and therefore unable to help.

StaySafe provides companies around the world with a low cost, easy-to-use solution to manage the safety of their lone workers. Employees are able to start a timed session in the app before they begin a period of lone work or travel. The StaySafe app gives employers visibility of the location and safety status of lone workers during a period of lone work or travel and allows them to check-in safely once they have finished this session.

If an employee fails to check-in safely during a session or raises a panic alert in the app, monitoring agents, either within the organisation or at an external monitoring service, will be immediately alerted. They will quickly verify the alert and dispatch the appropriate assistance to the employee.

Emergencies can happen anywhere from the rural mountains of Scotland to outside Wembley Stadium. what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique what3words address – made up of three words from the dictionary. With the new what3words integration, monitors can give the exact what3words address to emergency responders and help will be sent to that precise 3m x 3m square.

Many emergency services are beginning to use the what3words app deployed onto team devices so officers on the ground and first responders can use it to get directions to any precise 3m square efficiently.

Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words: “Growing up on a farm, the fact that we had no way to describe an exact location troubles me to this day. What if a fire had broken out in a barn or if someone was caught in running machinery? With what3words now available in the StaySafe app, it’s extremely reassuring to know that people working alone or in remote locations can tell emergency services exactly where help is needed fast enough to prevent extensive damage or avoidable injury.”

Don Cameron, CEO of StaySafe, says, “The StaySafe app is the easiest to use lone worker solution available today. Adding the what3words functionality simplifies getting responders to the exact location of an incident quickly.”

Meitrack Releases the Smallest GPS Tracker P88L Among Its Product Family

Today, Meitrack officially announces the release of the smallest GPS tracker among Meitrack product family, 4G mini GPS tracker P88L, to deliver the optimal user experience to customers worldwide.

Compared with the MT90 and P99G personal trackers, the P88L is much smaller in size and more lightweight, and offers longer battery life (built-in 1000mAh battery, 200 hours standby time) . This new model is easy and convenient to carry and to be put somewhere just like an accessory. Just glance around it. We can clearly see that there are two buttons only: SOS button on the front and auxiliary button on the left side, which is a user-friendly design for users, the elderly and children in particular.

Featuring the two-way calling, SOS alert, polygonal geo-fence alert, man-down alert and smart working mode, this unit can also work as an alarm clock, and at most 24 alarm clocks can be set at a time. Device parameters can be configured in diversified forms: SMS, Meitrack MS03 platform, Bluetooth or PC. After Bluetooth pairing is finished, if the unit exits the Bluetooth range, an alert will be pushed to users. In addition, this device can record the number of steps users take every day and upload this travel record to the platform as a reference. At 00:00:00 (GPS time), all the steps are cleared automatically. Everything about the new tracking device is designed to ensure a safe and sure travel and provide peace of mind for the family members and management team.

Let’s see the featured highlights of the P88L as follows:
1. LBS/GPS/WiFi/Bluetooth tracking
2. Smart working mode
3. IP67 water resistant
4. Multi-functional

Learn more about the brand new P88L 4G Mini GPS Tracker here.

Lone worker safety: how can you meet your duty of care to home workers?

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns faced by businesses across the globe there has been an unprecedented increase in people working from home. Worksafe maintains guidance aimed at employers to encourage them to consider the safety of home workers (here).

“If you run a business which has staff working from home, you are responsible for talking through and developing policies with them on how they’ll manage their health and safety when working at home”.

MBIE’s business.govt.nz website

So how can you ensure home based staff are protected?

“When we talk about home working, we are often talking about logistics – how will people access systems, how will teams keep in touch? Safety isn’t always first on employers’ minds” says Don Cameron, CEO of lone worker solutions provider StaySafe. “However just because an employee is at home doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about their safety. The duty of care remains the same wherever an employee is based. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak some businesses are navigating looking after lone workers for the first time. As H&S professionals the first thing that needs to be done is a risk assessment for these employees and measures put in place to ensure they are safe”.

What are the risks?

As outlined by WorkSafe, one of the biggest risks is that there may be no one able to help, should something go wrong. Risk of an injury or medical emergency is the same for a home working employee as for one on office premises and employers have the same duty of care.

Employers also don’t have the ability to assess and control the home working environment. “Whilst for most people we would hope that being at home is a safe and suitable place to work, we really do not know what environment an employee lives in. Domestic abuse charities have warned that isolation will lead to an increase in violence in the home and the risk of the virus itself could also leave someone who lives alone vulnerable. The bottom line is, if someone if working for you, you have to take steps to protect them” says Cameron.

However, undertaking updated risk assessments is not only necessary for newly home-based employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an increased risk profile for some existing lone working staff who continue to undertake vital work within our communities. Health services, housing authorities and charity workers are still visiting people in their homes at a time when tensions are likely to be running high, increasing the likelihood of violence and aggression. Social distancing and isolation measures have led to usually busy areas being left deserted, leaving staff vulnerable.

“We have had many companies get in touch with us since the outbreak who have concerns about keeping their staff safe, whether that is protecting new home workers or monitoring the safety of staff who now attend sites alone as part of social distancing measures. A water authority in Australia and a Housing Association in the UK increased the numbers of people using our lone worker app within days of their countries going into lockdown. It is a global safety issue employers are facing everywhere”.

Improving safety through technology

Lone worker safety isn’t a new concept for health and safety professionals and the types of protection that businesses can offer staff are comprehensive. However, as with many industries, advancing technology is leading the way with regards to the solutions employers are choosing.

According to a 2019 Berg Insights Report, 20% of all lone worker solutions in Europe, and more than 40% in North America, are app based. This number is predicted to grow; worker safety devices based on GPS and cellular technology in Europe are expected to reach 1.1 million users at the end of 2022.

Typically lone worker apps consist of the app itself, which has a range of functions including panic button, GPS location, timed sessions, man down alerts and check-ins. Employee activity and the location of staff whilst at work is monitored via a cloud based hub where employers can respond to any alerts.

Lone worker apps are particularly suitable in the current climate because of how well they lend themselves to being trialled, rolled out and utilised by staff remotely.

Apps can be downloaded directly onto employees’ phones without the need for any additional equipment being delivered. At a time when supply chains are likely to be majorly disrupted, this is a big advantage. Monitors can be trained to use a system remotely via Zoom and staff protected quickly. Alternatively, the monitoring of staff can be outsourced to professional monitoring firms who will handle any alerts.

“We’re very used to rolling out StaySafe remotely.” says Stephen Robb, Director of Secure Mobility, StaySafe’s local partner. “We have managed roll-outs to over 1000 staff in Australia from the New Zealand. In this day and age, you don’t have to be in the same room, or even the same country as someone for them to get the most out of your product”.

Engagement at a distance

Launching a new solution when you can’t train staff collectively on site poses another challenge for employers. As with any investment, it is important to know you are getting staff engagement and ROI. Again, apps have an advantage here.

StaySafe has recently launched a number of updates to help increase engagement and usage. In-app training walks new users step by step through how to use the app and our insights portal shows businesses who is using the app and how often. Our support services are available over the phone, email and webchat and we actively reach out to users who haven’t completed their training to encourage them to log in and start a session.

Stephen Robb, Director, Secure Mobility

Increased home working – a permanent shift?

“What started out as a forced arrangement may become a catalyst for more flexible ways of working” says Cameron.

We don’t know the long-term effects at this point, but it is likely that some businesses will find positives in their new working arrangements. The ability to work from home is believed to improve productivity, mental wellbeing and work-life balance. It reduces the numbers of people commuting and as such can also have a positive effect on the environment. We have the technology to do it safely – so why not?

StaySafe provides a lone worker app and cloud-based hub that monitors and protects thousands of lone workers around the world. Find out more about how StaySafe helps you protect your employees while they work in social isolation.

Get in touch with us

Feel free to ask a question or let us know how we can help you protect your lone workers.

COVID-19: Safeguarding employees during social isolation

Over the last few months, COVID-19 has swept the globe, leaving behind a trail of fear, confusion and uncertainty. There is still a lot that is unknown about the coronavirus or the impact it will have on us as a society but from what we do know, it is currently spreading at an alarming rate and can be life-threatening.

Companies have been under increasing pressure to protect their staff, with some having to cease trading completely. The coronavirus has affected employees in almost every industry and due to its nature, no workers are exempt from the risk. With New Zealand having recently moved to level three, employers are having to consider the best ways to continue without risking the safety of their workforce.

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StaySafe available on intrinsically safe smartphones

The StaySafe app is available on Exloc Instruments’ recently launched intrinsically safe ATEX Smartphone – providing a reliable safety solution for those operating alone in hazardous locations.

The IS530.1 is a robust, industrial smartphone certified for ATEX Zone 1 and Class I DIV1 hazardous areas. This means the device meets requirements to be safely used in the most volatile of environments, where using a regular mobile device could create an electrostatic discharge, which could cause ignition of a flammable or combustible atmosphere.

The ATEX smartphone’s latest technology is fully compatible with the StaySafe app and all of its features including; timed check-in sessions, panic alerts, discreet panic and man-down alerts. Read more

Android & iPhone Emergency SOS: do they provide enough protection for staff?

Many smartphones come equipped with built-in emergency SOS functions which can be used for free. Understandably, we sometimes get asked by prospective customers – “why can’t my staff just use the SOS feature on their smartphone if they need help?” 

In this blog we take you through just what these built-in panic features can – and most importantly can’t – do when it comes to protecting your employees. 

How do mobile SOS features work

There is an emergency feature pre-installed on all iPhones with iOS 11 or later. This allows you to quickly and discreetly call for help and alert specific emergency contacts if you’re in danger. Depending on the version of the iPhone that you have, you can activate Emergency SOS through a series of button presses to bring up a slider bar. This allows you to place a call to local emergency services.

Apple’s SOS feature uses the iPhone GPS to track an individual’s location. After the emergency call, the device sends your designated contacts a text message containing details of your current location. The device will continue to send updates if your location changes. Access to Emergency SOS is available from the iPhone’s Home screen, whether it is locked or not.

Whilst SOS features are not included on all Android devices, Samsung phones also allow you to notify a contact in an emergency. Similar to the iPhone, Samsung devices can send your current location to your emergency contact with an image of where you are and an audio recording. The feature can be turned on or off via the phone’s settings. 

Built in SOS features vs lone working solutions

So why are these inbuilt safety features not suitable for protecting your employees? Whilst the emergency SOS feature is free and easy-to-use, there are also areas where it is inadequate. Standard SOS safety features on phones have not been created specifically for lone workers and therefore do not offer all of the necessary attributes that other lone working solutions provide. 

Limitations we have seen with these solutions include:

  1. The emergency contact number is configured on every user’s phone, manually. This is an error-prone and time-consuming exercise
  2. The fact that every phone has the number manually programmed makes it difficult to change in the future should the details of the escalation contact change. All staff must be asked to make the change, and you rely on then actually doing this.
  3. If staff leave the employment of the organisation but don’t remove the emergency number, there is a chance that sometime in the future your monitor will receive an alert for this person. Do they respond to it, given the person is no longer an employee?
  4. When the SOS is triggered, it may have been some time since the user accessed the GPS on their device. This can lead to wildly inaccurate reporting of their location to the monitor.

Lone working solutions allow employees to start timed sessions before they begin a period of lone work or travel. This protects employees, as if they fail to end their session safely, a session expiry alert will be sent to the monitor. Lone working solutions also give employees the ability to send an immediate panic alert if they are in trouble. Emergency SOS buttons, on the other hand, do not allow individuals to record their whereabouts throughout the day. An individual’s location is only sent to their emergency contacts if they activate the panic signal. Some lone worker solutions also provide the option to integrate a satellite device to allow tracking of users when they are working outside of cellular coverage.

Keeping track of employee safety at work

Some lone working solutions have additional features designed to protect remote workers. For example, StaySafe includes a discreet panic feature allows an alert to be triggered using the phone’s power button from the user’s pocket or handbag without the aggressor’s knowledge. StaySafe also has a low signal mode that allows employees who work in remote areas to check-in even when the signal is limited. Employers are aware of any incidents that occur in real-time so there’s no delay in help being sent out to your employees. 

The SOS features on both Android and iPhones are also unable to detect when a person has been injured or has not moved for a long period of time, so employers will not be aware if a staff member has been hurt whilst working. StaySafe’s man-down feature works by detecting if an employee has not moved for a prolonged period of time or has not checked in.  A non-movement alert is triggered in case there has been an accident.

Both mobile SOS features and lone working solutions give users the ability to share their location with key contacts. After you make an emergency call using the iPhone SOS function, the device sends your designated contacts a text message containing details of your current location. The device will continue to send updates whenever your location changes. StaySafe has an SMS Broadcast feature which gives managers the option to send SMS text messages to their team directly from the StaySafe Hub, if one of their employees triggers an alert. This allows managers to communicate crucial information to their team as the situation progresses.

Which one should you choose?

For businesses who employ staff that have more traditional office-based job roles, the SOS smartphone features can be the perfect companion and help to keep employees safe whilst travelling to and from work. However, for companies whose staff spend a large amount of time working alone, meeting clients on their own and working in remote environments, they may not be adequate. 

Whilst SOS features may be more cost-effective, they also lack the necessary attributes to keep your lone working staff safe. Investing in a dedicated lone worker solution can be more effective in the long run and provide the level of protection that is needed for workers who spend long periods of time in isolation.

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Feel free to ask a question or let us know how we can help you protect your lone workers.