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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.

Hafod Housing

Hafod Housing are a not-for-profit organisation, providing affordable housing, care and support across South East Wales. Managing over 4,000 homes, Hafod Housing rely on a team of lone workers operating over a range of roles; from maintenance surveyors to caretakers and housing officers.

Lone workers at Hafod Housing are largely public facing and are frequently required to make visits independently to properties. Hafod works with some of the most vulnerable people in the community and do not always have the opportunity to meet and assess residents before housing them. Due to the nature of their work, Hafod’s housing officers are at higher risk of antisocial behaviours such as violence and aggression.

Those working to maintain properties regularly use ladders, heavy tools and carry out work on roofs and other potentially unstable structures. The risks they face tend to be more environmental as they are exposed to common workplace risks such as slips, trips and falls.

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Managing and Monitoring Remote Workers

A remote worker is anyone who works away from a fixed work base, such as an office or work site. Remote workers may work in small groups or on their own, and their roles are likely to require travel to different locations.

Typical jobs requiring remote working include:

  • Comunity and mental health workers
  • Mobile mortgage managers and business bankers
  • Travelling salespeople
  • Insurance assessors
  • Field service engineers
  • Maintenance/repairmen
  • Surveyors
  • Landscapers

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Three Reasons to Invest in Lone Worker Safety

It is estimated that 22% of today’s working population can be considered lone workers. With increasing pressures on businesses to enhance profits and productivity, and an increase in automation and new technologies, this number continues to grow year on year.

While lone working allows organisations to operate in a more efficient manner, with it comes a new set of health and safety challenges. Lone workers are more vulnerable to the risks of violence, abuse, accident and injury as any risk they face, is faced alone.

But should organisations be taking extra care when protecting their lone working staff?

This guide outlines three business reasons why you should take lone worker safety seriously; legal, moral and financial.

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Learn how to stay safe while working alone during the holiday season

For many, the holiday season means long periods of leisure and time spent in the home surrounded by family and friends. But for some, work continues as usual through these periods. However, we do not always consider that health and safety risks around the holiday season not only change but are likely to become more prevalent and heightened due to bad weather conditions (even in summer) and human risk.

So what are the increased hazards and what can we do to stay safe over the holiday period?

Click below to read on…

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StaySafe receives updated British Standard BS 8484:2016 accreditation for safety

Following an independent audit by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), lone worker safety solution StaySafe has been approved for the provision of lone worker device services in accordance with the updated British Standard BS 8484:2016.

BS8484: 2016 supersedes the original BS 8484:2011, which StaySafe was awarded in 2015, and defines stringent guidelines regarding lone worker devices. A BS8484 accreditation is only awarded to solutions that are deemed to be fully compliant with current safety legislation and practices.

StaySafe monitoring service

StaySafe is an app and surrounding cloud-based monitoring service which tracks a lone worker’s location via GPS and alerts their manager if they do not check-in within a specified time.

The app works on iPhone, Android and Windows and offers a wide range of functions including a panic button, check-in, GPS tracking, man-down and duress alerts. If an employee activates the app’s panic button or fails to check-in, alerts are automatically triggered on screen and via text and email, allowing an employer to take immediate action. Monitoring can be done in-house via an online Hub or outsourced to one of StaySafe’s monitoring and response partners who offer 24/7 services.

British Standard of approval

Don Cameron, CEO StaySafe added; “achieving BS 8484:2016 status means we remain one of the handfuls of lone worker safety devices available in the market that meet the stringent British Standard of approval. It is a core part of our business to be independently recognised as having a solution that is fully compliant and of the highest quality as there is nothing more important to us than ensuring people’s safety”

If you would like to talk to us about StaySafe and how BS8484 applies to the Australasian market, please get in touch using the form below, or feel free to call on 0800 GET SECURE (0800 438 732):

Get in touch with us

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

The rise of the lone worker app – is it time to make the switch?

Dedicated devices have been around for a long time and are a great way to offer personal protection to at-risk employees. However, with the advancement of technology and availability of smartphones, safety apps can offer a new and efficient way of providing protection.

With more and more businesses switching to smartphone technology to keep their staff safe, we take a look at some of the reasons why apps are gaining popularity.

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1 in 6 wouldn’t report a workplace hazard

A new survey published by Accident Advice Helpline, has revealed that hazards aren’t always being reported in the workplace. 1 in 6 said they would not report identified workplace hazards despite 25% admitting that they or someone they worked with had been harmed at work.

When asked why, the respondents gave the following answers;

  • 29% said they didn’t have the time
  • 24% felt the hazard didn’t affect them
  • 23% said it wasn’t their responsibility
  • 23% didn’t know who to report a hazard to
  • 13.2% worried about getting in trouble
  • 7.5% were told not to report an issue

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Creating a positive safety culture

Humans by nature are highly influenced by our environment and those around us. When entering a new workplace, we are likely to adapt to our surroundings rather than go against the flow, even if it means ignoring the rules that are in place.

This is why creating a positive safety culture is crucial in establishing lasting behaviours in our staff. If the majority of our colleagues are behaving safely and following rules, the rest of the workforce are likely to follow suit. Read more

Guide to getting employees on board with safety devices

Introduction

Providing your lone workers with a safety solution like StaySafe is a great step to take as a business. But whether you have just begun your search or have already rolled out a solution, you may be concerned about experiencing resistance from your workforce.

For many, resistance comes from a lack of understanding or fear of the unknown. Your employees may feel they do not need a safety solution, do not have time for it or simply do not understand how it works. Yet there are simple steps you can take to break down some of these barriers and get your employees on board with their new lone worker devices.

Your employees may feel they do not need a safety solution, do not have time for it or simply do not understand how it works. Yet there are simple steps you can take to break down some of these barriers and get your employees on board with their new lone worker devices. Read more