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The Holistic Solutions that Keep Lone Workers Safe

3 Mins read

Virtually every work environment posts a familiar employee slogan: Safety is our number one priority. Yet for many organizations, workplace safety often only comes down to tedious Human Resource orientations and required backroom compliance signage.

This is particularly concerning for those organizations that employ lone workers who work away from the home office on the road and not near other employees.

As the name implies, these individuals – including delivery drivers, students on campus, real estate agents, healthcare workers, transportation workers, utility, and retail employees, among many others – typically work on their own, without direct supervision or timely access to assistance. For them, work conditions vary, as do the risks.

For these 8 million or so laborers across various industries in the U.S., having the means to immediately call for help in the case of an emergency can prevent accidents from becoming fatal. Recent data shows that over 2 million private industry workers endured workplace injuries that required medical attention.

Accidents happen, but the extent to which they can affect or harm employees can be minimized with proactive measures. One key solution: the use of specialized wearable mobile personal emergency response devices. Beyond the safety and emergency functions they provide, such solutions help companies that equip lone workers maintain efficient operations and employee peace-of-mind, even amidst dangerous scenarios.

The Risk Employees and Employers Face

Whether working in the home office or on the road alone, lone workers must often grapple with risky conditions, ranging from potential physical assaults and medical emergencies, to other job hazards such as working in unfamiliar terrain, with heavy machinery, at great heights, and more. The ability to request immediate assistance is crucial for those involved in lines of work that face such challenges.

For employers, potential accidents can be a huge liability by virtue of costly insurance claims and legal action. The absence of immediate communication and response assistance exacerbates these dangers, exposing businesses to a string of legal and financial liabilities.

Businesses have an obligation to provide a safe work environment. They can’t afford to ignore employee safety, as lives and wellbeing are often on the line and the consequences of doing so are significant. Workers’ comp settlements usually average around $20,000 per person. However, this figure is tame compared to the claims that involve multiple bodily injuries – between medical treatments, legal feels and indemnity agreements average payouts can easily exceed $60,000, highlighting the need for preventative solutions.

Mobile Apps Alone are Insufficient

Finding the right solution to manage the risks that compromise lone worker safety can be challenging, considering the variety of issues that these workers face depending on particular job requirements.

In an attempt to better manage their employees’ risk exposure in an easy, inexpensive manner, many organizations turn to common workplace safety apps. While safety solution applications are growing increasingly prevalent across the U.S. markets, relying on apps that function as standalone panic buttons for lone workers comes with some notable disadvantages.

Chief among them: They require one’s phone to be within physical reach at all times, which may not always be possible or practical. For instance, in the event of a sudden emergency, an employee may be unable to quickly locate their phone, enter their passcode, and navigate to the app in time, especially if they’ve suffered a painful injury that has left them physically hurt. If the emergency involves a perpetrator, the odds are even slimmer. What’s worse, many apps in this space lack direct connections to professional call centers, limiting their actual effectiveness in real crises. These constraints significantly impact the effectiveness and reliability of mobile applications in critical situations.

Enlisting Holistic Solutions

This underlines the need for employers to embrace more holistic, targeted solutions capable of supporting the full spectrum of safety challenges facing lone workers – ones that are able to address their issues and are capable of contacting trained professionals or emergency services quickly and automatically.

To address the shortcomings of mobile applications, wearable technologies with monitoring sensors for added safety have emerged as one solution to accommodate lone workers in a diverse range of work environments. With built-in GPS location tracking, fall detection capabilities, and two-way voice communication, dedicated panic button wearables enable immediate contact with employers or emergency contacts. When seconds count, this solution allows lone workers to get the help they need anytime and anywhere, providing them with constant assurance and a robust sense of security.

Peace of Mind

Whether it’s a caregiver doing rounds alone on the night shift, or an employee on the road delivering packages, lone workers need the ability to be located and to get immediate assistance when required.  While they may be experienced, the safety risks they face still warrant attention and call for a comprehensive solution.

Although the use of mobile apps has certainly improved the safety and wellbeing of lone workers, they fall short in delivering the assurances that both employers and employees really need.

By embracing specialized mobile personal safety devices with active monitoring systems, organizations can offer a comprehensive solution that empowers lone workers to receive help quickly and seamlessly, no matter where they are or the time of day – decreasing organizational liability, and demonstrating their commitment to employee wellbeing by providing safety and peace of mind for their workforce.

Stephen Burd, VP Enterprise Security Solutions, Essence Security

Workers stock image by insta_photos/Shutterstock

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