Due to the varied nature of the workforce, employees within the housing sector are facing a growing number of large-scale threats which can affect both employee safety and business continuity. Employers have a duty of care to protect their workers, but this can prove challenging for large organisations with disparate staff.
Fires are a major concern for housing organisations such as associations and estate agents, particularly following the Grenfell Tower incident in 2017. The tragic incident which caused 72 deaths and injured over 70, due to a number of fire hazards present in the building. The exterior cladding was one such hazard and has found to be widely used in buildings around the world, creating a potential for similar incidents in the future.
This year, a building with the same cladding as Grenfell ignited in Melbourne, Australia and spanned 8 floors. Similar fires were also seen in Brazil, Dubai, Indonesia, Israel, and France in the past 4 years.
While the situations around Grenfell led to an extraordinarily high fatality rate, house fires are not uncommon. Recent statistics show that there were 19,656 reported fires in London alone in 2018, while 2% of all social renters experienced a fire in their homes in the year spanning 2016/17. Of this, 25 % were serious enough to require emergency response.
With housing employees spending much of their time in client’s homes, they are at risk of being caught up in fires while their employer is likely to be unaware of their location and whether they are able to evacuate the building safely.
Criminal activity is also becoming more common during working hours and in public spaces, creating more opportunity for employees working within the community to be involved in an incident.
Employees travelling between appointments and meetings can easily be caught up in such incidents which are extremely unpredictable and have largely changed in nature to random attacks on busy streets.
Riots and protests are also a threat across many parts of the world and innocent bystanders can easily get caught up in clashes and violent attacks.
Locating & protecting your workforce
Housing organisations are rightly concerned about their employees being involved in an emergency situation, due to their unpredictable nature and ability to cause considerable panic and disruption, to staff, tenants and business continuity.
However, identifying which employees are affected by an incident and providing them with appropriate and timely assistance can prove incredibly challenging and costly. It is important that every organisation has a disaster management plan in place which is appropriately documented and distributed to employees so that they know how to keep themselves safe if caught up in an incident.
With large, disjointed workforces, having a tech-based solution in place that allows management to quickly locate employees during an incident, not only saves the business time and resources but could also help prevent employees from harm.
Locating your employees in an emergency
StaySafe has specifically-designed functionality to overcome common lone worker challenges faced in the housing sector and by local authorities.
The StaySafe lone worker app is linked to a secure cloud–based hub providing you with real-time updates on the welfare status of your lone workers. In an emergency, you can easily and accurately locate your employees on the map and send immediate assistance to them.
The app includes a notes feature which allows lone workers to add extra details, such as who they are meeting with, or where in a building they are based. This extra detail can save valuable minutes in the event of an emergency.
Being notified when employees miss a welfare check-in
Through the hub, you can set regular welfare check-in intervals. If one of your employees fails to check-in safely during that time, or raises an alert, a notification will immediately pop up in the hub. Responders will also receive an SMS text and email, allowing lone workers to be located, and get the help they need straight away.
The hub is fully customisable, so you can create tailored reporting lines and escalation procedures that work for your company and employees. If you do not have the resources to monitor your teams in-house, you can outsource. We partner with a number of professional monitoring partners who can monitor employee safety and alert escalation 24/7 to keep your employees safe.
Giving your employees the ability to raise a panic alert
Working alone increases the risk to your employees, as there is no one to raise the alarm in an emergency. Your lone working employees need to be able to get help quickly and easily should they need to.
The StaySafe lone worker app enables you to know the location and welfare of lone workers in an emergency, and allows them to check-in and raise a panic alert easily. As the app is installed on your employee’s smart device, it is always with them and greater user uptake compared to separate devices.
Your employees can raise a panic alarm at any time, the app doesn’t even need to be active for them to get help. As soon as they panic, their location and welfare status pops up in the hub and responders know that a lone worker needs assistance.
For added peace of mind, there is a ‘discreet panic’ function, this provides your employees with a way to signal for help without further escalating a situation. The Duress PIN provides a way to raise a panic alarm if lone workers are being forced to close the app. The PIN will appear to close the app, whilst still sending location and panic data to the hub.
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Originally written by Alan Coulter, StaySafe. Reproduced with permission