A TUC report states that 20,000 retail workers are physically attacked each year.
This statistic is even more frightening when we consider that retail didn’t even make the top six in a 2008 survey by the TUC looking at the different sectors where lone working was perceived as a major hazard.
The sectors where lone working was most perceived as a major hazard were: health services, banking and finance, voluntary sector, local government, transport and communications and construction.
48% of safety reps in the Health Services said lone working was a major hazard.
Staying Safe as a Lone Worker – Reporting in
One vital procedure which can make a huge difference to the safety of lone workers is a system of reporting in.
This requires an assessment of how long it will take to do the work and then ensuring there are procedures in place for the employee to report in. There also needs to be procedures put in place outlining what will happen if the employee doesn’t check in.
Crystal Ball’s mobile application MobileLWP gives users access to this functionality simply by installing an app on their mobile phone.
Staying Safe as a Lone Worker
Employers have a duty of care to their employees and lone workers should not face any increased or additional risk. It is, therefore, important for all employers to carry out effective risk assessments in conjunction with lone workers to ensure that an adequate duty of care is met for all workers. You can read more about this in our blog about assessing risk for lone workers.
Consequently, it is also important that there are policies and procedures in place for reporting to and responding to emergencies.
Staying Safe as a Lone Worker – Raising the Alarm
Employers need to assess the situation with their employees to decide which method of reporting in is going to best suit their lone workers. At its most basic level, reporting in must include a way of raising an alarm in an emergency.
Crystal Ball’s MobileLWP is installed as an App on the user’s smartphone. When the App is running the user can raise an alarm simply by pressing the function buttons on the smartphone. This discreet and simple way of (essentially) pressing a panic button is particularly useful in situations where employees don’t want to alert other people to the fact they are raising an alarm – for instance, security staff who want to raise an alarm whilst trying to diffuse a potentially violent situation or healthcare workers making home visits.
It’s also important to think about what needs to happen when an alarm is raised. Can the response to an alarm be dealt with satisfactorily internally? Or, particularly in the case of 24/7/365 operations, does it need to be dealt with by an alarm receiving centre?
Crystal Ball’s MobileLWP application offers users the choice of either approach. Alarms can be configured to send an automated email to key decision makers in the company and/or be raised with a BS5979-accredited Alarm Receiving Centre staffed by professionals who are trained in dealing with emergency situations and who have direct access to the emergency services.
A More Proactive Approach to Raising the Alarm
For workers who are going into challenging environments (particularly for short periods of time), employers may want to supplement a “panic button” type functionality with an automated alarm system. Crystal Ball’s MobileLWP can be configured to create “timed welfare sessions”.
When a user initiates a session, a timer is started on the user’s smartphone. When the timer has completed its countdown, the application requires employees to “check-in”. The time periods of these timed welfare sessions are completely user configurable. For example, a domiciliary healthcare worker might be tasked to make visits of 15 minutes duration. When she enters the property, she can set her timed welfare session to 15 minutes. If she fails to check-in when the applications prompts her to, an alarm is raised.
This offers employers and lone workers the possibility of taking a more proactive approach to ensuring safety. The decision for employers of which approach will best meet their duty of care for their lone workers should be facilitated by the risk assessment process.
Lone Worker Safety
Every employer has a duty to assess the risks facing their lone workers and put policies and procedures in place to ensure that these are mitigated. If you’d like to speak with a member of the Crystal Ball team about how we can help support you as you put these policies and procedures in place, please contact us on 08450 501 501.
Find out more about Crystal Ball’s MobileLWP application.
Understand the legislation surrounding lone workers in our free guide to protecting your remote workforce
Find out more about undertaking risk assessments as an employer.