Posts

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

StaySafe available on new Garmin inReach mini devices

Garmin inReach mini offers a smaller, lighter satellite communication device with 100% global coverage through Iridium’s satellite network.

The new mini device offers much of the same functionality as the larger Garmin inReach, and provides all of the core functionality of the StaySafe app. It will even allow a lone worker to trigger a panic alarm from a connected Garmin watch, and to exchange messages with a monitor using their watch too.

Accurate location tracking allows remote workers to be monitored from the StaySafe Hub, while an SOS panic allows them to signal for help in an emergency. If a panic alert is triggered on the device, StaySafe will notify a monitor immediately, allowing an organisation to take action.

Read more

Renewable Energy company switch from buddy system to StaySafe

Leading renewable energy company, BeBa Energy, have implemented the StaySafe app to protect their lone workers who operate remotely on solar farms.

Working over a large worksite and facing a range of environmental risks, the company found that monitoring the safety and whereabouts of their employees, was proving difficult. By switching from a buddy system to a reliable mobile app, Beba Energy is able to ensure that their renewable energy specialists can be monitored while they work and always have a way to signal for help when in need of assistance.

Read more

Protecting Lone Workers from sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms and is shockingly more common than we realise, equally impacting both men and women.

Statistics show that 83 million people have experienced sexual harassment from the age of 15, with 50% of women and 20% of men experiencing sexual harassment at work. Despite these shocking statistics, many more instances of sexual harassment in the workplace still go unnoticed, unreported and subsequently, unresolved.

Forms of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can range from mild to more extreme forms and can be written, verbal and physical. These range from unwanted comments and discrimination, emails with sexual content, sexual advances, intimidation, unwanted physical contact and assault. All forms should be taken equally as seriously and dealt with immediately by employers.

 Heightened Risks

Although sexual harassment can occur at any time and in any location, there is a greater risk to lone working employees, particularly when working late, out of hours and often out of sight where signalling for help can be challenging.

Lone workers are also at high risk when undertaking visits behind closed-doors, where they could face volatile behaviour and aggression from clients, tenants and abusive members of the public. Commonly, roles which involve lone workers visiting homes without any attendance include; care workers, charity workers, family officers, NHS staff, surveyors and real estate workers.

There are also lone workers who are required to deal with members of the public under the influence of alcohol and drugs or suffering from emotional issues which can cause a change in behaviour. Without the appropriate care and training, individuals can be left particularly vulnerable in one on one situations.

Consequences of sexual harassment

  • Stress reaction including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, lowered self-esteem and more
  • Poor company morale
  • Less productivity in staff
  • Creates an environment for sexual harassment to flourish
  • Lawsuits

By violating the dignity of a worker, sexual harassment can ultimately create an environment of an intimidating, hostile and degrading nature.

What can be done?

Sadly, many cases of sexual harassment go unreported due to workers feeling unable to challenge or defend themselves against the perpetrator if they are in fact a client. As a result, as much as 53% of women and 69% of men did not report sexual harassment at work.

Cases of sexual harassment may not be reported by staff if they do not feel confident that there is substantial support from their company put in place, creating a barrier for them to take action.

The effects of sexual harassment are monumental and even as little as one instance can have detrimental knock-on consequences to both the company and their staff if not investigated properly and dealt with. Therefore, this is why it is so important to educate and train your staff.

Educating and training staff can be achieved through a strong Sexual Harassment policy to ensure the workplace is free of discrimination.  Training sessions should also be arranged for employers to ask questions and be as informed as possible on the matter in order to provide reassurance and instil confidence so that they can be prepared and take the necessary response if faced with this situation.

As an employer, you should seek to have a work environment that is understanding and sympathetic to all employees, including dynamic risk assessment training to evaluate risks and how to overcome them.

You should also make it clear who to report incidents of sexual harassment to and reinforce the idea that employees experiences will be taken seriously.

Lone Worker Safety Solution

A safety solution in the form of an app should be highly considered, as it enables a lone worker to signal for help even in difficult situations. This kind of solution can reassure both the company and their staff by providing accurate and reliable safety monitoring through alert functionality and location updates.

Duress alert

If an employee feels threatened whilst working remotely or otherwise, they can raise an alarm secretly and unknown to their attacker by inputting a special duress PIN. This will fool the attacker into thinking the app has been disabled when in fact a duress alert has been raised in the Hub and help can be sent immediately.

Discreet panic

Generated by pressing the phones power button, a user can raise a panic alert swiftly and discreetly from a hidden area, such as a bag or pocket.

Wearable device

The StaySafe app can even be paired with a bluetooth button which can be attached to a lanyard, clothing or worn around the wrist, and used send a panic alert without touching their phone.

While safety measures, policies and training are essential in protecting employees from sexual harassment and assault, a lone worker app is a reliable way of ensuring a lone worker is never completely alone.

Aspire Housing

Housing Association Aspire Housing launched StaySafe to oversee the safety of their lone workers when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods and properties.

Aspire Housing is made up of three strands; Aspire Housing, PM Training and Realise Charity. Lone working is common practice in both the Housing and Charity strands, where employees regularly visit homes and properties alone.

Housing employees visit homes to support clients as well as carrying out repairs and maintenance operations, while lone workers operating in the charity strand meet with and support young people.

Working across a range of environments and often behind closed doors, Aspire recognised that their employees could be exposed to a number of risks on a daily basis. While safety has always been a priority, Aspire identified that the dedicated device they had in place had become outdated and was no longer fit for purpose. As a result, Aspire undertook a review of the other solutions available and decided to trial StaySafe. Trial users responded positively to the new software and Aspire felt that StaySafe provided the most cost-effective and user-friendly solution for their staff.

How StaySafe helped:

  • An easy to use, time efficient alternative to an outdated system
  • Visibility of staff location on a real-time GPS map
  • Accurate and concise reporting to support Health and Safety policy
  • No extra equipment needed – staff already carry smartphones daily
  • Mandatory check-ins prompt users to check-in every 2 hours, letting Aspire know staff are safe throughout the day

Why did Aspire launch StaySafe?

Housing employees have been found to be particularly at risk of violence and aggression due to working with a diverse cross-section of the public and often behind closed doors. Shockingly, according to Inside Housing Magazine, in the UK an assault occurs every 35 working minutes. Out of 346 workers surveyed in 2015 as part of Freedom of Information requests made to every local authority in the UK, 69% reported they had been verbally assaulted within the last 12 months whilst carrying out their duties, with nine taken hostage and 27 attacked through being kicked, pushed or punched.

Aspire’s housing and charity sector lone workers are at risk when visiting members of the public, particularly vulnerable individuals who may be hostile or abusive. To mitigate these risks, Aspire use StaySafe for added reassurance that their workers are monitored and can easily signal for help when operating alone in properties and travelling between appointments.

The Results

HR Business Partner at Aspire, Clare Godbold comments:

Our Lone Workers have a positive feel for the app and find it easy to use and navigate. It is really useful that the app has a range of features and offers all the functionality we need in one place, without assistance from another device. As we have multiple workers visiting many properties and client’s homes, it is important we can keep on top of their safety between appointments through mandatory check-ins. Overall, the app adds reassurance for us and our employees and we are confident that this system offers better value for money than our previous system, which was regularly left forgotten or uncharged by our lone workers.

Aspire were also impressed by the range of additional features the StaySafe app provides. For example, Discreet Panic provides a way to signal for help out of view – from a pocket or handbag. In addition, if a member of staff is confronted by an attacker and are forced to switch off the app, entering a duress PIN conceals that the worker is signalling for help and cleverly behaves as if the app has been switched off and any alerts cancelled.

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.

Read more

Celtic Anglian Water

Celtic Anglian Water use StaySafe’s app and wearable tech to keep Lone Workers safe

Celtic Anglian Water (CAW) is a water solutions company who provide treatment services across Ireland. Part of the Anglian Water Group are regarded as one of Ireland’s largest water service operators, CAW employees work across a range of offices and treatment plants across Ireland and the UK. With measures in place to minimise the requirement for lone working, some elements of work still require employees to attend sites alone, CAW launched the StaySafe app to ensure their lone workers are protected even out of hours.

Read more

Three Reasons to Invest in Lone Worker Safety

It is currently estimated that 22% of the 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, it brings with it a new set of health and safety challenges. Lone workers are more vulnerable to the risks of violence, abuse, accident and injury since any risks they face, are 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.

Read more

In the News: Lone worker asphyxiation

Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust and Imperial College London, have been fined following the death of a lone worker.

In October 2011, Damian Bowen was asphyxiated whilst decanting liquid nitrogen, used to freeze blood samples, in a London laboratory.

An investigation into the incident by the HSE, found that the local exhaust ventilation provided to extract dangerous substances, had been switched off. When released into the air, the liquid nitrogen expanded as a gas, replacing the oxygen in the room and creating a deadly atmosphere.

Working with hazardous substances

Working with hazardous substances could cause a number of health issues if not handled correctly. From burns and inflammation, to cancers, respiratory problems and even death.

Legally, procedures and control measures must be put in place for employees handling or working near hazardous substances. In this case, the ventilation system would have been a sufficient way to prevent harm, and Bowen would not have died.

The failure to implement a system that prevented the extraction from being switched off, a proper system of maintaining the equipment and clear arrangements from preventing lone working with liquid nitrogen, demonstrated a clear breach of health and safety legislation.

The outcome

Both Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust and Imperial College London, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) and Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The building in which the incident occurred, belonged to Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust, who were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,069.19.

However, the room was rented by Imperial College London who owned the liquid nitrogen store. They were fined £70,000 with costs of £23,069.19.

Lessons learnt

The death of lone worker Damian Bowen, was an entirely preventable incident. When working with hazardous substances, employers must ensure that not only are procedures in place to prevent harm, but they are always put into practice and regularly checked.

If working alone with hazardous substances, a thorough risk assessment should determine whether it is safe to do so. In this case, the HSE inspector involved concluded that lone working should not have been allowed.

If lone working is determined to be safe in other circumstances, additional safety measures must be put in place to ensure they are at no more risk than employees working alongside colleagues.

One effective way of doing so, is to ensure every lone worker has a way to signal for help in an emergency, even if they are unable to physically do so themselves.

With StaySafe, missed check-in and man-down alerts ensure someone is alerted as soon as possible, even if an employee in knocked unconscious. This is incredibly important for those working with hazardous substances where an accident would require immediate medical attention.

The hidden costs of poor health & safety

When discussing the costs associated with poor workplace health and safety, direct costs such as fines and legal costs tend to take centre stage. While fines given to a business following a safety failing are designed to have a significant impact on the business, there are a multitude of ‘hidden costs’ that many forget to consider. Yet these hidden costs can also have a significant, and in many cases, ongoing financial impact on the business.

Read more