More than 84% of non-fatal work accidents result from overexertion, slips, trips, falls, and contact with machinery. Imagine what could happen if those accidents occurred with no one else around. Lone workers have a great risk of complications due to an injury simply because they’re working alone.
If you want to protect employees in your business who work by themselves, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about lone worker safety.
What Is a Lone Worker?
A person qualifies as a lone worker if he or she works alone. In particular, if you work for a company but your job isolates you from coworkers, you’re a lone worker. You can be near people or even working directly with individuals and still be a lone worker. Individuals who work construction, social workers, caseworkers, gas and oil field workers, and service and maintenance workers all qualify as lone workers.
Lone workers carry a particular risk because of their isolation. Simply being alone puts you at a higher risk for complications should you become injured or have an emergency. To do your job well with as little worry as possible, you need the security of some kind of lone worker safety measures.
If you’re an employer sending out lone workers, you need to protect your employees and your company by implementing a lone worker safety program that includes lone worker monitoring systems. Such measures make employees feel cared for. They can also boost worker retention.
Before you drop thousands of dollars into a monitoring system, run an audit of your workers’ activities. Consider the following questions:
- How many employees work alone?
- What percentage of time do employees work away from other employees?
- Do your workers do a lot of driving alone?
- Are the employees spending time alone in dangerous or potentially dangerous environments?
- Do your employees manage heavy equipment alone?
The answers to these questions will help you decide which type of monitoring system is best for your situation.
Aren’t Cell Phones Good Enough?
You may be wondering, don’t we already have emergency contact devices? They’re called cell phones. Cell phones are not an adequate solution for lone worker safety. Consider these factors:
1. Your lone worker may be in an area with poor cell phone reception. If you’re sending a lone worker into a poor neighborhood or a desolate part of the country, you have no guarantee he or she will have a strong enough cell signal to call for help. Even working in a basement or the middle of a building can interfere with reception.
2. You have to be lucid and conscious to use a cell phone. If a fall, chemical, or a nefarious person renders your lone worker unconscious, they will not be able to use their phone.
3. Does the work your lone worker do require gloves? If your lone worker has gloves on, he or she will not be able to use a touchscreen phone.
A myriad of other reasons make cell phones inadequate, but these three give you a taste of why you need a lone worker monitoring system.
Develop a Lone Worker Safety Program
When you roll out a worker safety program, you need to do so incrementally. Once you’ve assessed risk, you need to put together a program that meets the following objectives:
1. Make the purpose of the program clear. Employees need to understand why you’re requiring them to wear another device or take one more step for their safety.
2. Clarify their risks. Your workers most likely already know their risks, but when you clarify them, you validate your employees’ concerns. Include anecdotes of things that have happened to other lone workers with and without the property safety measures in place.
3. Define lone workers. Make sure employees know if they qualify as a lone worker who needs support.
4. Clarify roles and responsibilities. Make your employees’ responsibilities clear, and make your role as employer clear. When employees see you take the helm and recognize your responsibility, they will be more likely to fulfill their responsibility as well.
5. Clarify requirements. Take time to review the guidelines for reporting incidents. This will cut down on the legal risks for your company. It will also make sure employees have a way to get support.
6. Clarify safety standards. Lone workers need you to tell them specifically what actions they need to take to protect themselves. Clearly state the minimum standards for employment with your company.
7. Provide resources. In addition to providing safety equipment for lone workers, provide them with the proper literature, education, and documentation so they feel safe. Post signs around the building and in the employee lounge that remind workers of their responsibility and your concern for them.
Implement a Communication System
The next step is to purchase a reliable lone worker monitoring system. Lone workers need more than a harness to keep them safe or a work cell phone to call in an emergency. They need a communication system designed for emergencies.
A real-time communication device for lone workers will make your employees feel safer and will protect them should an emergency arise.
Lone worker safety devices come with a variety of options.
Buddy Devices: These are devices that communicate with each other. One monitor can send a signal to another monitor when a buddy is in trouble.
Supervisor Monitor System: This system will send an alert to a supervisor from any one of a handful of lone worker monitors.
Wall Mount: A wall-mount can send out a panic alarm is triggered. It will also have an optional light and siren or send out a phone call if it receives a signal from a remote unit.
Your best bet in making a lone worker safety system work lies in how you educate your employees. Hold multiple training sessions where they can learn about the new system and protocol. Run them through potential emergency scenarios to test the system. Adequate training will serve to make your employees feel protected and safe instead of afraid and vulnerable.
Keep Lone Workers Safe
Your employees will feel valued if you spend time implementing a lone worker safety system. You will reduce liability, protect your employees, and boost your reputation as an employer who cares about their workers.
For the best lone worker safety equipment on the market, contact us.