26 Sep In-house or outsourced? Monitoring your lone workers
Lone worker protection solutions vary in many areas, one area to consider before selecting a solution is the person at the other end: the monitor.
There are two main approaches to lone worker monitoring: in-house or outsourced to a professional alarm receiving centre (ARC). Both systems have their advantages, and which you go for depends upon your resources.
Before diving in and deciding which approach to take, first think about what’s involved with lone worker monitoring and how best your organisation can manage this.
What’s needed for effective lone worker monitoring?
Firstly, you need a monitor, who may be employed by you or work for the ARC. A monitoring platform enables the monitor to access all the information they need – mainly, who the lone worker is, and where they are. They need a robust telephone link. They also need a set of procedures: how does your organisation want to escalate alarms?
You also have to make sure you’re meeting all the lone worker protection legislation. You need to have systems in place to look after all your employees, on and off your premises. If you employ lone workers, your organisation needs to be certified to BS 8484 standards (the British lone worker code of practice).
These criteria apply to both approaches. Which you go for depends upon your resources, the size and scope of your organisation, and what you can set up in-house. Here’s a closer look at both methods.
How self monitoring works
This is where you set up your own in-house system. As you can imagine, the key here is finding and training the right employees to handle this role. They need to be calm and unflappable – and don’t forget that hearing a duress call can be distressing. You’ll need to commit to having someone on duty all the time when you have “risk periods” (lone workers out in the field); so you need to ask yourself whether you have the staff resources to cover holidays, lunches, even loo breaks…
You’ll need a quiet location where the monitoring can take place. Self monitoring means that calls for response from the emergency services have to go through the 999/101 system, and a dedicated telephone line is essential.
Which organisations are best-suited to self monitoring?
If you are a large organisation with a control room and security team already set up, then you’re in an ideal position to self-monitor.
Organisations who operate locally (i.e., you’re not a nationally-based company with branches and employees scattered all over) tend to work better as self-monitoring organisations than national ones. You’ll probably already have a good relationship with the local emergency services too.
If you have only a few lone workers, and they don’t work round-the-clock, self monitoring can work really well for you.
If you’re going to self-monitor, just think through the few additional risks: ensuring that you have the right colleague in place to act as monitor; making sure shift changes are seamless and that you’re never left without cover during risk periods; and that the monitor has all the necessary information to make the 999 call response as rapid as possible.
Using ARC monitoring
An ARC is a professional organisation that provides a remote monitoring service to a range of organisations. Staffed by trained and skilled operators, they can be the best people to look after your lone-working staff in an emergency.
Choosing an ARC that is certified to the Lone Worker standard BS 8484 is recommended. They will have a unique reference number that allows the operator to bypass the 999 system and go straight to the appropriate police control room.
It’s vital that the ARC has all the essential information about your lone workers: their identity, their accurate location, and their personal, medical and contact details. The ARC also needs to be able to identify why there’s an emergency. Any app or device certified to BS 8484:2016 will be able to provide this.
Which employers need to consider ARC monitoring?
Multi-site organisations, and those who employ a lot of lone workers, really benefit from this approach.
Conversely, small organisations who can’t commit to a dedicated in-house monitor can find outsourcing a cost-effective and robust way of protecting their few lone workers.
There can be additional benefits, such as tracking data, risk reports, and advice for managing lone workers.
Choosing your monitor
So simply, there are advantages to both ways of monitoring, and which you go for depends on your organisation’s structure and resources. Providing you’re meeting the essential criteria we mentioned earlier, either method helps to keep your lone workers safe.
If you’d like more advice, please get in touch with us, and we’ll take you through the advantages of both approaches in more detail.