24 March 2020
This blog will look at the different options available when keeping employees safe.
An employee protection solution or ‘lone worker’ solution is put in place to reduce the risks of working alone or working at risk. A solution like this usually consists of three elements:
1. The mechanism the end-user carries on them e.g. dedicated device or smartphone application
There are plenty of choices for this, based on the requirements of the risk profiles involved. In most cases, smartphone applications are the best solution, while in other cases dedicated GPS or even satellite devices could be required. The options here are widely advertised.
2. A management portal where managers can view user activity, access reports etc.
Each solutions provider on the market will offer their own portal that integrates with the solutions they provide. Some are easier to use than others.
3. The monitoring and response to alarms
For the Monitoring and Response aspect, traditionally there has only been one option; monitoring by a BS:8484 (British Standard for Lone Worker Protection) accredited 24/7 alarm receiving centre, or ‘ARC’.
Typically every company providing employee protection solutions will provide this service via their own ARC. This service consists of operators handling any alarms that come through and following the company’s pre-defined escalation procedure for any incidents that occur, which may include calling the Police and then calling appropriate points of contact within the customer organisation.
This approach is the most expensive way to protect employees. It is not the only way an employee protection solution can be monitored and is certainly not required by Health & Safety legislation in order to adequately protect your employees and fulfil your duty of care.
Let’s take a look at some other monitoring options that are now available that can lead to a higher level of protection for employees…
Internal escalation to pre-defined contacts
It may be the case that in the event of an incident with a lone worker, it would be more appropriate for this to be routed through to a Manager, Team Leader or colleague rather than being escalated to an arm’s length Alarm Receiving Centre. So when the user activates an SOS alarm or fails to confirm their safety by a defined time, then the system would call and text their pre-determined phone contacts. This solution works well if colleagues work alone or at risk, but can be in close proximity to each other, and may also be appropriate if there is on-site security and the best response would be from an on-site Security Officer.
Monitored by an internal dedicated resource
If you are a Local Authority with a CCTV monitoring centre, Security Company or other organisation with a Control Room or Risk Management Centre etc, you may have the resources internally to monitor the employee protection solutions in place.
‘Monitoring’ can take many forms but at its most basic means, there is always somebody observing a system and available to react when an alarm comes in. As long as the person has access to view an online platform and a dedicated phone line to receive calls this would allow a company to centrally monitor their own lone workers. And if there’s already an established security resource within the organisation the monitoring platform can be integrated into their existing alarm handling software.
The benefits of this approach are two-fold. Firstly, as the organisation retains complete control of the employee protection solution they could provide a more tailored response service. For example, a Local Authority CCTV centre would also be able to use CCTV to get eyes on the incident while their local knowledge to decide on the best response option. Secondly, as each employee protected and monitored by your organisation doesn’t mean an extra user license for an Alarm Receiving Centre, the overall cost of the solution doesn’t increase with the higher the number of users added. It also makes the CCTV more cost-effective by providing another service.
Hybrid Monitoring Option
Another option to consider when deciding how best to protect your employees is a mix of monitoring options. Protecting employees is all about identifying the risks and putting the right solutions in place to best mitigate these risks. If you have a number of risk profiles it may be that a combination of monitoring options is best for you. For example, high-risk remote workers in rural areas may be monitored by a BS8484 Alarm Receiving Centre but employees within a shopping centre may be better protected by an on-site Security Officer or colleague as their immediate point of escalation.
There is now complete flexibility in the way solutions can be monitored and it’s important to identify which type of monitoring will be the most effective solution for your organisation.
Get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss further.