Aug 032014

Apple_iPhone1Some years ago a friend was trying to move a pool table by himself because the roof above had started to leak during a rainstorm.  The table collapsed suddenly, pinning him underneath.  Those things are heavy!  Fortunately he’d placed his mobile phone on top before trying to move the table, and it luckily fell within reach so he was able to call for help.  This wasn’t a work situation, and he didn’t sustain serious injuries, but having the phone right there enabled a swift response that reduced the consequences that delay might otherwise have caused.

The mobile phone you carry with you every day is part of a communication network that can potentially save a life, including yours.

Many people work alone with no one they can rely on nearby to come to their assistance in case of accident or emergency.  They could be working alone on a worksite, or even on the same site but out of the sight and hearing of their workmates.  They could be in a remote location, working from home or travelling in the course of work.  Even today many employers have no visibility of where their lone workers actually are, assuming they’re okay without really knowing for sure.

There are a variety of portable alarm systems available for lone workers with varying degrees of sophistication and capability, the most suitable depending on the particular circumstances and risks.  It goes without saying that any system must ensure that lone workers are able to raise an alert and be accurately located so that help can quickly be sent.

The use of mobile, or cell phones, is widespread nowadays.  As a safety device, they benefit from being able to be tracked through GPS, provide two-way communication, are generally already carried by workers (meaning no extra capital costs or additional devices to carry and keep charged), are supported by a variety of safety specific apps, and can be very cost-effective.

Especially when combined with the right app & backend system and support, perhaps even linked to an ARC monitoring & response service, a regular smartphone can reduce risks for lone workers, automatically triggering alerts under a variety of circumstances (panic, session expiry, duress, man down etc.) so that the person(s) monitoring knows that a worker is in trouble and exactly where they are so they can respond without delay.

However mobile phones cannot be relied upon as an effective means of communication in areas with poor network coverage of course.  Geographical or man-made features may impede their use or accuracy.  Battery life may be an issue.  They may not be appropriate where there is a risk of sudden attack or assault for example.

Systems can’t prevent accidents or assault and will never be a substitute for good planning or the implementation of safe working practices.  However, when there is an emergency the phone a lone worker is probably already carrying with them, capable of summoning help and minimising delay, may be a lifesaver.

May I ask:

  • Have you had any experience yourself in implementing mobile/cell phone systems for lone worker protection?
  • Do you know any cases where such a system has triggered an alert for a genuine emergency?
 Posted by at 6:36 pm