Posts related to lone worker solutions.

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 at https://www.securemobility.nz/covid-19-safeguarding-employees-during-social-isolation/

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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. 

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.

Keeping track of employee safety at work

Some lone working solutions have additional features designed to protect remote workers. StaySafe’s discreet panic feature allows an alert to be triggered using the phone’s power button from the user’s pocket or handbag without the aggressors knowledge. StaySafe also has a low signal mode that allows employees who work in remote areas to check-in even when 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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StaySafe wins prestigious Canadian Health and Safety Award

StaySafe has been named as one of the three winners of the 2019 Readers’ Choice award by Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine. Over 1,200 readers across Canada chose StaySafe as one of the best lone working monitoring companies in the country.

StaySafe is an app and surrounding cloud-based monitoring service which tracks a lone worker’s location via GPS. If an employee triggers an alert or they do not check-in within a specified time, the app alerts their manager allowing them to get help straight away.

COS is one of the main occupational health and safety publications in North America with a readership of over 14,000. The magazine provides practical and informative advice regarding workplace safety, whilst highlighting recent news and updates in the industry.

Don Cameron, CEO at StaySafe adds, “With the rise in lone working and increasing rigorous Canadian health and safety legislation, we are delighted to have been recognised as one of the best lone working companies in Canada. Providing the highest level of protection to lone working staff is of the utmost importance to us. We have designed the app to be user friendly and we offer training and support to all users to guarantee that they are confident in using the solution.”

Identifying your lone workers – understanding the roles & risks

When we think of lone workers we usually imagine those working in complete isolation such as a security guard manning a building at night, or a farmer working out in the middle of a field. However, while this may be true for many, lone working doesn’t always mean being completely alone.

Lone workers may very well operate in highly populated areas or alongside clients, customers and members of the public.

Narrowing our definition of lone workers down to those completely in isolation means that many of our employees are not being included in our lone worker policy and are not receiving the level of protection they need as a result.

So, what then constitutes lone working and how can we identify lone workers in our organization?

A lone worker is anyone working without the direct and immediate support of supervisors or colleagues. To put it simply, if an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are lone working, whether that be for all or part of their working day.

Identifying your lone workers

Some of your lone workers will be easy to identify by assessing work patterns and roles. However, there may be times where you may not even be aware that your employees are lone working. It may be useful to talk to your employees and ask the below questions to identify any ‘hidden lone workers’ in your organization.

  1. Do colleagues work in different parts of a building or site? E.g. two cleaners working on different floors.
  2. If working on a noisy site, will a colleague be able to see/hear another colleague if they need help?
  3. Do your employees travel alone during working hours?
  4. Are there times where employees working as pairs will be separated? E.g. taking separate lunch breaks.
  5. Will any of your employees be left working alone if a colleague is on leave?
  6. Are there times where an employee is left to man the shop floor alone?
  7. Are single employees left working late in the office or other work sites?

Once lone working practices have been identified, it is important that you risk assess each of these situations and put measures in place to ensure your employees are safe.

Understanding the risks

There are of course different risks associated with the level of isolation that comes with lone working. Those out in a remote and completely isolated location are more exposed to environmental risks that could lead to an accident, while those working alongside members of the public or in client’s home are at higher risk of experiencing violence and aggression.

We have produced an infographic that outlines some of the different types of lone working, examples of different roles associated with such situations and the risks that they may face.

If you would like to discuss identifying or protecting your lone workers, please get in touch via our contact form.

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Enhanced Session Notes Functionality

This article provides a brief guide on the different options for notes on check-in and session extend.

StaySafe has recently been updated with the ability to allow or enforce the entry of notes not only at the start of a user’s session but also during a session.

The ability to add additional notes during a session has been developed for situations where a lone worker needs to leave useful information throughout the day. For example, those working on different jobs or sites during a session, those about to enter an area of low signal, or to record any identified hazards while working.

 

 

To get set up with notes on check-in and session extend, contact us at support@securemobility.nz.

Improved password reset and Hub ID

We have recently introduced an easy way to find out your StaySafe log in and reset your password – whether you’re an app user or a Hub admin!

Please share the article with your teams using StaySafe so that they to can log in to StaySafe quickly and easily if they ever forget their details.

StaySafe used by lone workers providing VIP protection on film sets

Above the Line Security have improved the safety of their at-risk employees by switching from a manual call-in system to the user-friendly StaySafe lone worker solution. Employees at Above the Line Security are responsible for guarding individuals and high-value equipment on busy film sites.

Prone to theft and coming into contact with potentially volatile paparazzi and members of the public, the company required a more reliable way of monitoring the safety of their guards.

StaySafe allows workers on site to send an alert in an emergency while providing the employee with an accurate location via a real-time map. Monitors are alerted if an employee triggers an alert or fails to check-in on the app during their shift.

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How advancements in mobile technology are aiding lone worker safety

As technology is rapidly advancing, health and safety challenges are increasingly being solved with the assistance of smartphone apps. From providing quick information on the go to reliable monitoring, the ability of smartphones to harness new technologies allows businesses to access low cost, effective safety solutions.

For those working alone, this is particularly valuable as support from colleagues is not always readily available. Yet with 85% of adults in the UK owning a smartphone, support from a mobile device is.

So in what ways can advancements in mobile technology aid the safety of lone workers? Read more