The risks of lone working and the rise of the lone worker app
24th June 2019
For many organisations, lone working offers greater flexibility, productivity and allows them to reach a wider customer base. Employing lone workers to carry out jobs traditionally completed in pairs or teams, allows businesses to double their productivity without acquiring additional costs. It is no surprise then that 6 million UK employees consider themselves to be lone workers for all or part of their working week.
While lone working provides a range of benefits for organisations and their employees, employers must consider the risks associated with lone working and assess whether it is safe to do so. While those working alone often come across the same hazards as any other employee, lone working carries with it an increased risk as any dangers encountered, are faced alone.
What are the risks?
Unfortunately, lone workers are more at risk of violence and aggression as they are often regarded as easier targets. This could be down to the nature of their work such as working with vulnerable members of the public and behind closed doors or working in a store with large amounts of money.
Depending on the work being carried out, lone workers could be at risk to common workplace hazards such as falls, moving vehicles and electrocution. This risk could be increased when working on non-regular worksites that have not been risk-assessed by the business. Working alone also poses challenges in regard to receiving immediate assistance and medical help if an accident does occur.
Similarly, if a lone worker suffers from a medical emergency such as a heart attack or fainting, receiving immediate support and alerting emergency services could prove difficult without nearby colleagues, particularly if working remotely or out of sight and sound. Immediate medical help can be crucial in these situations and a lack of assistance could lead to a much more serious outcome.
Protecting lone working staff
Traditionally, those with lone workers use methods such as the buddy system or manual check calls to monitor the safety of their employees. However, these methods rely heavily on employees remembering to check-in with their colleagues throughout the day and colleagues following up if someone fails to do so. Additionally, if a lone worker fails to check-in, finding out where they are can also prove impossible if contact cannot be made.
Legal duty of care
Every organisation holds a legal duty of care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff. For lone workers, it is important that additional procedures are put in place to ensure that regular communication is maintained so that someone will be alerted in the event of an accident or incident.
For those working in higher risk situations, manual methods are often not fit for purpose and can leave organisations liable should an employee come to harm. If lone worker activities are found to be to high risk such as operating machinery or working in an environment regularly targeted in violent robberies, lone working should not be permitted. However, in the majority of situations, implementing a reliable way of monitoring the safety of employees will counter the identified risks.
How can an app protect lone workers?
Fortunately, the marketplace has responded to the rise in lone working and the challenges that such staff face. There’s now a range of products that businesses can implement to help protect their staff such as devices, panic buttons and even apps.
Lone worker apps such as StaySafe, overcome the challenges above by allowing lone workers to check-in at regular intervals, raise an alert in an emergency and share their location automatically.
Advancements in mobile technology mean that apps can offer reliable functionality in a familiar and easy to use form. 95% of adults in the UK are estimated to own a smartphone and many of us carry them with us wherever we go and keep them charged throughout the day. Because of this, apps offer greater user adoption than standalone devices. In addition, apps can be developed and updated remotely, providing the latest features and functionality without accruing additional costs.
Organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits of lone workers apps as a recent report by Berg Insights identified mobile apps as the fastest growing section of the lone worker market.
How does StaySafe work?
StaySafe is comprised of an easy to use lone worker app and cloud-based monitoring hub. A lone worker is required to begin a timed session on the app during a period of lone working. The organisation can choose to set-up check-in intervals for extra security where the lone worker will be prompted to check-in and specify that they are safe.
If the lone worker feels threatened or suffers an accident such as a fall, they are able to trigger a panic or discreet panic alert at any time. In situations where a lone worker is immobilised and unable to trigger an alert themselves, missed check-in alerts, non-movement and man-down functionality will ensure an alert is triggered automatically.
All alerts will notify either chosen colleagues within the organisation or a monitoring station, allowing the monitor to view the lone worker’s location and send assistance if necessary.
The StaySafe app is user-friendly, reliable and even works in areas of low signal.