Posts

Terror in the workplace: When the worst happens, how do you know your people are safe?

Businesses are increasingly facing a growing number of large-scale incidents that can affect the well-being of their employees and the organisation’s ability to operate. In the aftermath of a terror attack or other disaster situation, the failure to prepare and respond effectively leaves the business and its employees vulnerable, and will considerably prolong an incident – costing valuable time and resources in the process.

While many of us plan and prepare for the practical side of disaster management, the questions around our team members’ safety are arguably the most difficult to address. Yet with our most important assets being our people, is there is more that we can and should be doing to protect them in the event of an incident?

Rising threat levels

The type of incidents businesses face could vary greatly depending on a number of factors; from geography and the work environment to individual ways of working and the job roles performed. Some examples include;

Natural disasters: Storms, earthquakes, floods and natural fires

Manmade events: Fires, plane crashes, public transport disruption and road incidents

Criminal activities: Terrorism, shootings, riots and vandalism

Business continuity issues: Power outages, water or gas leaks and cyber attacks

Just this month we have seen several large-scale incidents around the world. In Colorado, wildfires have displaced thousands of individuals from their homes and places of work, while 600 homes in Hawaii have been destroyed by lava following a volcanic eruption. Elsewhere, in the UK the threat of terror attacks remains ‘severe’, violent crime consumes the media, and extreme storms around much of the world have caused power outages, flooding and general disruption.

Climate change experts predict an increase in natural disasters with warmer temperatures and high tides resulting in more flooding, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes. Coupled with the increase in population and development over a wider geography, more and more lives are being affected each year.

The number of terrorist attacks has also risen in recent years. In 2016, 77 countries were affected by terrorism, while Europe experienced the greatest increase. Data revealed that there were 30 attacks in Western Europe in 2016 compared to 23 in 2015, 2 in 2014 and 5 in 2013.

Such incidents are beyond our control and often take us by surprise. Businesses that once faced few large-scale threats are seeing an increasing number of events happening around them. Plus, with an increasingly varied and mobile workforce, locating staff and managing the effects of an incident has become even more unpredictable and difficult for businesses to contain.

Managing employees during an incident

Perhaps the first step and the greatest challenge in the aftermath of an incident is locating employees who could be affected and ensuring their safety.

As more organisations turn towards less traditional ways of operating, such as utilising remote and lone workers, manual methods are no longer a viable solution. Calling employees individually is much too time-consuming during a time-critical situation, and missing a call leaves both the employee and the employer in the dark.

Fortunately, developments in technology and the widespread use of mobile devices today are providing solutions to many of our incident management challenges. Whether it be warning individuals of a nearby incident, providing peace of mind for friends, family and employers, or communicating practical advice necessary to keep safe, technology is able to offer a solution.

But how can technology provide a way for businesses with a large and varied workforce to locate and protect their employees?

Introducing IncidentEye

At StaySafe we have recently launched a new app called IncidentEye, which has been specifically designed to help organisations locate and protect employees as quickly and effectively as possible during an emergency. IncidentEye allows you to quickly answer the most important questions a business faces in the aftermath of an event; are my employees in the affected area and are they safe?

The IncidentEye app can be distributed via MDM; from the Apple Apps Store or Google Play and lays dormant on an employee’s phone until an incident is activated in the hub. Using geofencing, the affected area can be isolated on a map and all employees within the vicinity will be immediately alerted via the app with details of the event and prompted to specify whether they are safe or in danger. This enables you to focus on the employees who need assistance, with no disruption for unaffected staff.

IncidentEye maintains privacy by notifying employees whenever their location is collected. Location data should only ever be used for safety purposes which is maintained through a fair use policy and the inability to view location without employee knowledge.

When an incident is active, monitors can view employees’ safety status in real time and respond accordingly. In-app messages can be sent to the affected individuals or groups of individuals, with crucial information. For example, you may choose to;

  • Instruct those in the affected area to evacuate
  • Warn those nearby to avoid the affected area
  • Provide official government advice on how to deal with the situation
  • Update employees as the incident progresses and once it is resolved

Ultimately, IncidentEye provides a way for businesses to continue to run as smoothly as possible by accounting for all employees and focusing support where it is needed most. Having a reliable and efficient solution in place not only provides peace of mind for the business but for the workforce as a whole.

With IncidentEye, businesses are able to locate and protect their employees when an incident occurs, better meet their duty of care and ensure that the organisation can recover quickly and effectively following a disaster.

For more information visit our incident management page.

For a personalised demo and pricing please contact us.

Ground Control use StaySafe to manage lone workers during UK storm

On Thursday 23rd February storm Doris rolled across the UK, knocking down trees, damaging buildings, sweeping up debris and knocking out power supplies. With gale force winds of up to 95mph, many faced disruption as trees blocked rail lines and thousands were left without power.

But as many struggled to travel home and others avoided venturing out at all, Ground Control’s teams across the country worked throughout the night to remove obstructions and help their clients fix faults so that services could return to normal by the morning.

Fortunately, all of Ground Controls’ utility teams across the UK are equipped with the StaySafe app which made managing jobs and staff safety quick and efficient. Read more

Erhma lone workers protected with StaySafe

Ermha is a not-for-profit organisation focused on achieving recovery, independence and social inclusion for some of South-East Australia’s most vulnerable individuals. Many of their clients struggle with the challenges associated with disability, mental illness, homelessness, trauma and substance abuse.Ermha logo

To provide a personal service and wider outreach, Ermha relies on a network of lone workers who support clients on a one-to-one basis. For the organisation, lone working is a great way to provide much-needed support in the community.

However, the organisation recognised the risks of working alone and wanted to keep their employees as supported as their clients. This idea led the organisation to StaySafe. StaySafe is a lone worker safety app and monitoring service that allows Ermha to help mitigate the the risks associated with working alone in the community. Read more

Disaster management using SMS Broadcast

A major New Zealand StaySafe client has used the SMS Broadcast function to communicate with senior managers as part of this disaster management response, following the Kaikoura Earthquake on November 14.

Just after midnight on Monday, November 14, a 7.8 earthquake hit New Zealand’s South Island. Part of a client’s office building collapsed in the quake but fortunately, the building was empty and there were no injuries. However, communications were completely taken out as a result of the damage.

The building damage rendered their systems unusable, including email and phone systems. With traditional forms of communication now unavailable, the business turned to SMS Broadcast to communicate with their team. Through the StaySafe Hub, the client was able to send an SMS message to senior managers, updating them on the effect of the earthquake on their internal systems and what was expected from them following the natural disaster. Read more

The human element of disaster management – protecting lone workers

While we can plan and prepare for the practical side of disaster recovery, the ‘What if…?’ scenarios around our team members’ safety in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster are somewhat harder to address and, of course, highly emotive.

Following last November’s terror attacks in Paris and other equally upsetting incidents around the world, we are all on high alert with regards to personal safety. While it remains statistically unlikely that you or your staff will be affected by terrorism – statistics put the chances of being killed in a terror attack at around one in 20 million – the perceived risk by individuals in the current climate is high. The fall-out of a full-scale emergency, however unlikely one might be, could turn the situation into a catastrophe.

As an employer, it’s important to plan how to manage your employees’ safety in the event of a disaster. You also need to be seen to be doing so by your employees in order to help lessen their fears.

What can you do, then, when it comes to planning and communicating an effective human disaster management plan for your members of staff? Read more