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Video: Supporting your mobile lone workers

In her fourth video for SHP, Nicole Vazquez explains how to support your mobile lone workers, including the purpose of lone worker services, and how to choose one.

The SHP Safety Talks are a series of small thought pieces designed to get you thinking, whilst perhaps sipping your morning coffee. The SHP team have invited key individuals from the safety world to deliver these mini-lectures, and you can expect only the most insightful challenging and engaging threads.  For more videos from the SHP Safety Talks series, visit our CPD  downloads page.

Tell us what you think of Nicole’s presentation in the comments section below.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Hal

    The thing that is often forgotten when looking into “lone worker devices” is that they are effectively PPE and in many cases lone workers simply don’t use them in everyday situations. Having trialled one type of device with 40 lone workers I found that they very quicly fell into disuse. I did not buy or lease devices and am relieved I didn’t. I know of two large employers (approx 4000 staff each) who have invested very heavily in these devices and been very dissappointed with the persistent failure of lone workers to use them. One of the employers spent £99,000 on these devices and spent significant time and money on training but can’t get useage above 4%. The H&S team has decided that this must be due to the limitations of the device and so has proposed to the board that they invest a similar sum in another device. I suspect that this will be more money down the drain. Personally, I focus on training and procedure in protecting lone workers and I believe that PPE, such as lone worker devices, has very limited use in my industry. I’m not saying these devices have no use and I am sure in some industries or higher-risk teams they may be of benefit. But I think the H&S profession should resist attempts to push these devices as a panacea, which they are not. My advice to anyone considering these is to get a free trial with as many devices as you can and get honest feedback from users before committing to a contract!

    • Nicole

      Hi Hal

      I completely agree that lone worker devices are not a panacea and I too have been involved with organisations where the usage is poor. As I say in the video any service chosen must meet the needs of the lone worker, the lone worker should feel comfortable with the device and you need to find a way of truly embedding it in your normal working practices. With my experience those organisations that use lone worker services to the very best effect are the ones that recognise that any system needs to be part of a bigger picture of risk control (which definitely includes robust procedures and training to support skills).

      I do have clients that have made a real success of using these systems alongside other controls. They have engaged staff and managers in the early stages; identifying their specific risks, involving them in defining what they need from a support system and then including them in the full process of trial and feedback. Involving Managers is vital to keep the process alive long term as they will set the culture for the team. These clients understand that lone worker services are purely another tool that they can use, however it is the behaviour of staff that really makes a difference.

    • Craig Swallow

      Hal, you raise a very valid point and its correct to say that focusing on making sure lone workers use the system provided to them is very important. With all employers its a challenge, how big that challenge is depends on a number of factors. Ultimately there are responsibilities that need to be accepted and followed by the users, their direct managers, the body corporate (main board) and the supplier of the system. Usage levels for our customers are often in excess of 75%, that’s lone workers using the system daily or weekly to dynamically assess risk as well as raise alarms.

      I agree with you that devices are not a panacea but alongside effective training, audit and management they can (and do) help better protect lone workers. I’m very confident based on the data I see that lives have been saved.