Jul 102014
 
Image of a tracking session from StaySafe Business

Image of a tracking session from StaySafe Business

A customer, trying to implement a lone worker protection system to help keep his lone workers safe, is getting some serious push back over the issue of tracking.

Their team of technicians regularly work by themselves for part of each day, and consequently face increased levels of risk with no-one nearby to come to their help in case of accident or emergency.

The employer wants to introduce a smartphone based lone worker tracking system that sends automatic alerts in case of panic, non-movement or upon expiry of a user established tracking session.  The system uses the GPS and GSM networks to monitor & map the location of each worker in real time.  If the employee gets into trouble, because they know exactly where they are, the employer can then respond and send help quickly.  Rapid response can at times mean the difference between life and death.

The tracking sessions can only be set up by the employee, not the employer, and are specifically designed that way to circumvent any question of snooping by the employer.

The employer’s only consideration is to provide a safe workplace and help reduce risks that lone workers face every day, and is introducing the system at their own expense.  They have no intention of checking up to see if people are doing the right thing, though the system does provide the capability of doing so if it were to be used in that way.  Apart from the basic intention to keep people safe, the employer also has a duty of care to fulfil – to provide a safe workplace, safe systems of work, and an effective means of communication with each worker. The penalties of not doing so can be stiff.

However, the team is now up in arms about being tracked, as they say it is a pretext for the employer to spy on them and demonstrates a lack of trust, so they’re pushing back on adopting the system.

So why would you turn down the opportunity to benefit from a system that helps keep you safe?   Lone worker safety devices, supported by all-important back-end systems, policies and procedures reduce risks, and also offer peace of mind, not just for the worker, but also for their families and colleagues as well.  It’s unfortunate but things happen out there.  People slip and fall, have heart attacks, fits, get assaulted.  Most people would be grateful you would think that their company’s looking out for them – actively taking steps to make sure they’re safe.  Lots of people, especially those who’ve had a bad experience in the past, actually want their employer to know where they are, and to know they will send help swiftly if they got into trouble.  Wouldn’t you?

There are some shocking stories about lone worker accidents, assaults, holdups.  They happen all the time.  But most of us are ok most of the time aren’t we?  So I’m curious to know, how do you feel about being tracked?  What is your experience?  What are the pros & cons in your view?  Do you know of cases where tracking has helped someone, or been abused?  Is it a condition of employment?  How would you deal with the team of technicians?

  3 Responses to “To track or not to track! Lone Worker Tracking – Are You in Favour?”

  1. The tracking sessions can only be set up by the employee, however” what happens when the employer say this has to be set up as part of your contract then this could be made mandatory for all their employee, this could be pretext for the employer to monitor the employee/workers and not just lone operatives I can see some agency adopting this system to be able to monitor free lance staff/operatives. I do believe this system could be a benefit to keep people safe. however I am sure it will be abused.

    Regards

  2. I believe it is essential to introduce lone working protection. We owe it to our staff in this day and age (with the technology available) to ‘make the difference’ and protect our staff. We cannot control what happens when they are out there working alone, but we can control how quickly we become aware if something goes wrong and how quickly we get assistance to them.

    Does your contacts staff think that little of the company?
    Does the staff not consider the fact that if something does go wrong, that lone worker protection means the difference between the company telling their family and friends they will never see their loved ones again or there might be some impact, but the staff member is alive and will recover?
    The staff need to consider that if something happens to them it affects their loved ones and friends long term and not so much the company.

  3. To address your points as quoted Mr Barrington – “They (the company) have no intention of checking up to see if people are doing the right thing, though the system does provide the capability of doing so if it were to be used in that way” – Some people might suggest that the tracking is the tip of an iceberg – although at present the employer – specifically the CURRENT higher level management members may not want to constantly track the technicians its obvious that should a change in management structure take place that a new less safety orientated manager may use it to track the employees – if the system is app/phone based how far would that tracking go? Only at work ? at work including meal breaks? to and from a place of work? at home? 24/7/365? “Apart from the basic intention to keep people safe, the employer also has a duty of care to fulfil – to provide a safe workplace, safe systems of work, and an effective means of communication with each worker”. Some people might suggest that there are many many similar lone worker roles which are not tracked and likewise that when a person works alone they have little to no distractions from others meaning they are very aware of their surroundings and are focused on the work in hand. “The penalties of not doing so can be stiff”. I personally have yet to hear of any employer being taken to court for failing to provide a lone worker app/phone and being fined for negligence nor have I heard any changes in the law which puts the onus on the employee to use such a device”.

    “However, the team is now up in arms about being tracked, as they say it is a pretext for the employer to spy on them and demonstrates a lack of trust, so they’re pushing back on adopting the system.” – Respectfully, trying to force people to adopt something they have had no say in seems to display not only the companies lack of trust but more importantly that the company does not consult its employees and therefore a complete lack of respect for their opinions, further more, perhaps the higher management might want to consider that rather than implement the tracking system to only the technicians that the higher level managers adopt the system across the whole of the company from CEO to technician- leading by example often produces a very positive team spirit especially when everyone is on the same playing field – if its just an app Im sure everyone including the managers can easily make use of it.

    “So why would you turn down the opportunity to benefit from a system that helps keep you safe?” – I would ask the question – how many of these technicians have had problems etc in the past? I would also ask the companies medical and safe systems policies – because its not the app/phone that will keep the worker safe – it is the workers actions/interpretations and working methods that will ultimately prove a good safety record – specifically, the tracker app will not stop a workier coming to harm. “Lone worker safety devices, supported by all-important back-end systems, policies and procedures reduce risks” – Some people would question this statement heavily – the lone worker App’ is mentioned first – this indicates to me that the back end systems are and potentially always have been inadequate – and that prior to the proposed tracker app’ that the employer has not demonstrated a commitment – specifically, if the employer has such deep reservations about the technicians working alone why did the employer not just put them into 2 man teams ? . “It’s unfortunate but things happen out there”. Respectfully, scare mongering what MIGHT happen is really not a good basis for an ongoing work ethic. “People slip and fall, have heart attacks, fits, get assaulted”. People get bumps and bruises every day all over the world – thats a apart of life, heart attacks can happen to anyone at anytime, I have never seen anyone suddenly ‘fit’ and again I would question the employers medical screening process, “assaults” usually happen at night in my experience – so I woulsd question the employers duty of care and ask the question why would an employer send a one worker into an environment knowing that it may be potentially violent? “Most people would be grateful you would think that their company’s looking out for them” – perhaps if the company had a better working relationship, shared its information and made the technicians feel part of the decision making they might feel a little more grateful. “Lots of people, especially those who’ve had a bad experience in the past, actually want their employer to know where they are, and to know they will send help swiftly if they got into trouble” – I would ask who ARE all of these people .
    All of the above is not aimed at being obstructive and is nothing personal Bob- I am personally going to start using a lone worker device/app in the very near future on a trial basis – I am that guinea pig- hence the feed back alot of the things said to me by others are answers to the points in your article …

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