How to use the “time at risk” function

How to use the “time at risk” function


Here’s a question we’re often asked: “which is the best solution for lone workers if they need to raise an alert – the ‘time at risk’ function or the duress button?” It’s a good question. Both are popular methods of bringing a response to a lone worker; however, there are a couple of obvious difficulties that any lone worker app or procedure needs to overcome.


The first difficulty is that threatening events, by their very nature, are unpredictable. If we could predict them, they wouldn’t actually pose any threat. The second challenge is caused by technological limitations – most commonly, lone workers travelling out of signal.


A truly effective lone worker protection system will find ways around both of these difficulties. Here’s how the “time at risk” approach combined with the duress button can help.


How the “time at risk” system works


The “time at risk” solution requires the lone worker to work out when they’ll be at risk – for example, between three and four o’clock later that day. They should then key these times into the app, effectively using it as a timer. This information should then be stored remotely on a server, just in case there’s no signal or the lone worker can’t initiate a distress call.


At the same time, the lone worker should pre-record where they are going to be, and when. This gets over two technical problems: firstly, a lack of signal which means the GPS location can’t be sent, and secondly, the limits of GPS. Because GPS works on a “horizontal plane”, it’s not so good inside a building: you know that the lone worker is inside, but they could be anywhere.


The time at risk timer, to use our example starts counting down from three o’clock. When it reaches zero at four o’clock, an alarm is automatically raised to the operator. If the lone worker is out of signal, the operator then has a problem: without additional information, what’s the situation?


The amber alert procedure


The way around these issues is to use the amber alert system, which is also called the pre-activation call. This involves that pre-recorded information being available to the operator – so even if the lone worker is out of signal, the operator knows where to send help.


The obvious problem with a duress call is that it needs a signal. The advantage of using the timer system and amber alert is that the alarm will still be raised even in mobile black spots



The time at risk function and the duress call


Sometimes, the lone worker may not be able to initiate a duress call, even if they do have a signal (they could be in a tricky situation where they can’t easily reach their device, for example). The combination of the timer reaching zero and the pre-recorded location information gives the operator a clearer picture.


Our advice would be to use the time at risk function for planned events, with the extra protection of the duress button.


What to look out for when setting up this system


To sum up, to manage this system you’ll need:


  • A “time at risk” function (a programmable timer)
  • A method of pre-recording an amber alert
  • Procedures in place to manage these amber alerts (if you have a self-managed system)
  • Training for all lone workers in the system and procedures


So, the answer to our original question is to use them in tandem: the timer and pre-recorded system for planned lone working, and have a duress process ready for more unexpected events.


If you’d like more advice, please get in touch with us.