26 Sep Is Lone Worker protection a safety or a security responsibility?
It’s often been a bit of a dilemma – is protecting Lone Workers a safety or a security responsibility? It should be a straightforward answer, so, what is the issue?
In simplistic terms, health & safety is aimed at protecting the individual and by extension the organisation; security is aimed more at protecting the organisation and by extension the individual.
In security terms, the individual is often the problem; leaving doors and windows open, lax password controls, and, by intent of by accident, exposing the organisation to potential harm. For health and safety, the organisation may want employees to do something for the benefit of the organisation but which may lay them open to harm. For example, working on their own away from the ability of the organisation to look after their safety.
Lone Worker safety may overall be a health & safety responsibility but the response is more likely to be a security responsibility.
Much of the point of good employee safety is to avoid getting into trouble in the first place. But, despite the best of risk assessments, policies and training, an employee is out in the wide world and subject to the rules of unpredictability. Therefore, a sensible organisation will appreciate that while an assessment shows they can hope for the best, it is sensible to prepare for the worst.
The ‘worst’ is when you need the response to an employee in trouble; getting the right resource to the right place at the right time. This is what Lone Worker service suppliers, like Pick, do.
In most cases ‘the worst’ is going to require a police response. So it makes sense to prepare for that because you will then be ready for anything less. And a police response is a security issue because the police will only accept the highest level of response request, (Level 1- Immediate), if requested through an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which is a security organisation and approved by the provisions of the Police Security Systems Policy. In turn, this is based on certification to certain British Standards; for Lone Workers, the relevant British Standard is BS8484:2016.
Why is BS8484 important? Because certification demonstrates that a supplier is serious about their business and are prepared to commit the resources to make it the best they can. It means they provide an end-to-end service, are properly funded and insured, that training is provided as are the reports that help customers with the information to manage their lone working employees.
The 999 service is of course perfectly acceptable. But it will take more time to alert the right police force and, because there is such a low false alarm rate for Lone Worker response, less than 1%, a request from a certified Lone Worker company is likely to get the more urgent response.
Employ safety can be a security responsibility, for example for employees traveling abroad. This is more likely for large organisations who can employ the likes of International SOS. For SMEs, it may well come under the heading of ’too difficult’, which makes both employee and employer vulnerable
Keeping your employees’ safe when outside the UK is still the employers’ responsibility. Lone Worker applications can show where they are and the problem. They are more affordable and with some pre-arrangement with colleagues/customers in the country, response can be arranged.
Lone Worker safety is often a standalone function whereas it ought by rights to be part of an organisation’s employee safety and security policy. As such it would be an integral part of their day-to-day operations and not an add-on. Such an approach would provide clear areas of responsibility which would benefit both employee and employer.
If you’d like more advice, please get in touch with us.