Rather than purely concentrating on the risks to lone workers, we feel it is important to recognise (and reap) the business benefits of safe and happy lone workers. This article from Mathew Colley, Sales & Marketing Manager, at LONEALERT extols some of the benefits of addressing the risks in a positive way…
Safe and Happy Lone Workers
A lot has happened in the world of lone working over the past 15 years.
The awareness of the risks faced by those who spend their working lives alone, remotely or in potentially vulnerable situations has been heightened greatly. In turn, the devices and solutions available to keep them safe in their roles have evolved beyond recognition.
There are now an estimated 8 million lone workers in the UK alone –
a figure that is only going to continue rising as technological advances allow more people to work remotely. Although there is no legislation that specifically addresses the issue of lone working, employers are becoming more aware of the Duty of Care they have to their lone workers and the importance of implementing safety solutions and systems that protect them should the worst ever happen.
Sadly, there is still somewhat of a fear factor surrounding the phrase ‘lone worker’. National news stories highlighting cases of workers injured or even killed on duty whilst working alone, and of organisations fined huge amounts for failing to protect them adequately, do little to alleviate the misconception that lone working in itself is the danger and should be avoided at all costs.
The reality is that lone working shouldn’t terrify companies or workers, it’s just one important consideration that should be made by employers when considering the myriad potential risks already associated with any job. If managed properly by employers, with the implementation of effective lone worker protection systems and solutions, as well as an increased focus on the potential wellbeing implications of those working alone, the benefits to both businesses and lone workers themselves can be huge.
An effective lone worker protection system should wrap its hands around workers and make them feel protected and cared for, both physically and mentally. People will always be the most important asset to any business and letting them know that they are valued by introducing measures to protect their safety and wellbeing can only be a good thing for everyone involved.
Here are just some of the ways effective lone worker systems can improve business efficiencies:
Retention of staff
Good staff retention rates are an important element of any efficient business. But when people feel vulnerable, under-valued, or unable to speak to their employers about their working concerns, the likelihood is that they will be heading for the door. Implementing effective systems and policies to prove to workers that their safety, security and wellbeing is paramount will encourage them to remain loyal, hard workers.
Mental wellbeing of staff
Effectively protecting staff is not about simply protecting them from physical harm. As each role brings its own stresses, employers should consider the mental health implications that come from the pressures of the job – especially those working alone who can sometimes feel as though they are out of sight and therefore out of mind. Take those working in highly-pressured and emotionally-charged social services roles making life-changing and potentially distressing decisions alone, for example, or the overnight security guard working a 12-hour shift with nobody to talk to. Or the sales rep driving hundreds of miles alone every day under pressure to meet huge targets and too scared to raise their concerns with company bosses over fears for their job.
According to HSE’s vital statistics for 2018, 1.4 million workers were affected by work-related ill health in 2017/18 – a staggering 42.86% of these caused due to stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace. It is important employers consider the wellbeing of their lone workers as well as their physical safety if they are to feel truly valued. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Best use of personnel resources
If a company introduces effective lone worker protection, employers can be confident that they can send one worker to a job, safely, instead of wasting personnel by sending two.
By enabling staff to work alone safely, staff can get more jobs/work completed whilst having the ability to remain in the workplace out of hours or on a flexible working pattern, meaning a potential increase in business productivity time.
Using GPS-based lone worker devices means employers can monitor the locations of their lone workers and gather data to spot trends in visits/clients and work hotspots. It also enables them to see situations developing, such as motorway closures, and then make informed decisions, such as whether to redirect them or send the person closest to an urgent job immediately.
Improving customer support
As this technology allows management to redirect workers, it also enables them to inform customers in advance of any possible delays to staff arrivals, and the reasons why. Keeping customers happy is integral to any efficient business.
Thanks to Geo-fencing, management can see if workers are within the designated areas they are supposed to be – or indeed if someone is in an area they shouldn’t be – allowing the company to change protocols to enhance safety if required.
Take a distribution depot containing a
restricted freezer area, supposed to be accessible to a limited number of staff
only, for example. Due to lunchtime rules, the entire team of those allowed in
the restricted zone are off site together at lunch from 12pm every day, leaving
authorisation to use the area they don’t have official clearance for. Thanks to data provided by the Geo-Fencing technology, company bosses can see the daily pattern emerging – and most importantly the safety implications of these patterns – and can therefore change company protocols regarding staff break times.
Regular reports filled with important data and activity can allow bosses to work with their staff to understand what is going on in the business and therefore make informed decisions to drive efficiencies and improvements.
Company appeal to new clients
Ensuring lone workers are properly protected and cared for will allow companies to reassure potential new clients that they have safe methods of work for their staff when on client premises. This investment in staff safety, security and wellbeing will also go some way to showing customers, competitors and prospective workers that the company has integrity, and values its best asset – its people.
There is now a vast range of lone worker protection devices and solutions available, ranging from low-cost ranges that utilise smartphones to the more technically advanced, such as ‘Man Down’ devices that automatically detect if a worker has fallen and raise the alarm or discreet devices that can be concealed in name tags and badges. Solutions are available for workers from every industry, for every budget, so there’s no excuse for any lone worker to feel vulnerable in their jobs. With so much choice, it’s time to forget the fear factor surrounding lone working, truly show workers how much they matter – and allow your business to benefit.
Mathew and the some of the team from Lone Alert will be on hand to answer your questions along with our other trusted exhibitors at the Lone Worker Safety Expo Conference, which is now only a few days away on the 15th October. If you want to learn more about how to protect the safety, security and wellbeing of your staff (or volunteers) then there is still time to get your ticket for the event.