Choosing the Best Lone Worker Device for your Team

Choosing the Best Lone Worker Device for your Team

Introduction

Lone workers are those who work by themselves or without direct supervision, either at a fixed location or in the field. They can be found in various sectors and industries, such as health care, social work, delivery, construction, agriculture, etc.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were about 6.5 million lone workers in the UK in 2020, accounting for 20% of the total workforce.

Lone workers face many hazards and risks that can threaten their safety and security, such as violence, accidents, injuries, illnesses, and emergencies. Therefore, they need devices and apps that can help them communicate, monitor, alert, and respond to any potential or actual incidents.

In this blog post, we will review and compare some of the best lone worker devices and apps for different scenarios.

Lone Worker Devices

The devices and apps that we will cover in this blog post are:

  • Panic alarms: These are devices or apps that allow lone workers to send a distress signal to a designated contact or a monitoring centre, either by pressing a button, pulling a cord, or shaking their phone. They can also emit a loud noise to deter attackers or attract attention.
  • GPS trackers: These are devices or apps that enable lone workers to share their location and movement with their employers, colleagues, or family members. They can also provide geo-fencing and alert features, which can notify the user or the contact if they enter or exit a predefined area, or if they stop moving for a certain period of time.
  • Man-down sensors: These are devices or apps that detect if the user falls, faints, or becomes unconscious, and automatically send an alarm to a contact or a monitoring centre. They use various sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor, to measure the user’s posture, motion, and vital signs.
  • Check-in timers: These are devices or apps that require the user to check in at regular intervals, either by pressing a button, sending a message, or making a call. If the user fails to check in within the specified time frame, the device or app will send an alert to a contact or a monitoring centre.

In the following sections, we will discuss each device or app in more detail, and compare their features, benefits, and limitations. We will also provide some recommendations for choosing the best device or app for different types of lone workers, based on their needs, preferences, and budget.

Lone construction worker

Lone Worker Statistics

With an estimated 8 million lone workers in the UK, making up 22% of the 31.2 million working population, lone workers form a substantial percentage of the UK workforce, this number continues to increase in a post-pandemic world in which many workers now work remotely.

The NHS alone employs up to 100,000 healthcare professionals (9% of its workforce) who work on their own every day.

Lone workers face many hazards and risks that can threaten their safety and security, such as violence, accidents, injuries, illnesses, and emergencies. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, as many as 150 lone workers are either physically or verbally attacked every day.

The Health and Safety Executive identifies some of the main risks that particularly affect lone workers as: violence in the workplace, stress and mental health or wellbeing, a person’s medical suitability to work alone, and the workplace itself, for example if it’s in a rural or isolated area.

According to the International Labor Organization, around 321,000 fatal accidents occur at work every year worldwide, and around 20% of these accidents involve people who are working alone. Approximately 1 in 5 fatal accidents in construction are caused by falls from height, which can be especially dangerous for lone workers as there may be nobody nearby to offer assistance.

These risks mean that employers have a legal and moral duty to protect their lone workers and ensure they have adequate training, supervision, communication, and emergency response.

Employers Responsibilities to Lone Workers

Employers have a legal and moral duty to protect their lone workers, who are those who work by themselves or without direct supervision. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers of lone workers must do the following:

  • Complete a full risk assessment of the work activities and environment, and identify any hazards and control measures to reduce or eliminate them.
  • Make sure the job can be done safely by one person, and provide adequate training, supervision, and monitoring for the lone worker.
  • Keep in touch with the lone worker and respond to any incident or emergency that may occur.
  • Prevent work-related violence by assessing the likelihood and severity of violence, implementing preventive measures, and providing support and guidance to the lone worker.
  • Consider the stress and mental health or wellbeing of the lone worker, and ensure they have access to appropriate resources and help if needed.
  • Check the medical suitability of the lone worker to work alone, and take into account any personal factors that may affect their ability or safety.

Employers should also consult with their lone workers and involve them in the risk assessment and management process. They should also review and update their policies and procedures regularly to ensure they are effective and compliant with the law.

lone worker painting boat

Panic Alarms

Panic alarms are devices or apps that allow lone workers to send a distress signal to a designated contact or a monitoring centre, either by pressing a button, pulling a cord, or shaking their phone. They can also emit a loud noise to deter attackers or attract attention.

Some of the features, benefits, and limitations of using panic alarms are:

  • They are easy to use and activate, and can provide a quick and discreet way to alert someone in case of an emergency.
  • They can help to reduce the risk of violence, injury, or harm to the lone worker, and increase their confidence and security.
  • They can also provide evidence and information about the incident, such as the location, time, and audio recording of the situation.
  • However, they may not always work in areas with poor signal or network coverage, or if the battery is low or dead.
  • They may also be accidentally triggered or forgotten by the user, which could cause false alarms or reduce their effectiveness.

Panic alarms are most suitable and effective for lone workers who:

  • Work in high-risk environments or situations, such as dealing with aggressive customers, handling cash or valuables, visiting unfamiliar locations, etc.
  • Need a simple and reliable way to communicate with their employer, colleagues, or emergency services in case of a crisis.
  • Prefer a device or app that is discreet and easy to carry or wear, such as a pendant, a wristband, or a smartphone.

Nurse holding up panic alarm

GPS Trackers

GPS trackers are devices or apps that enable lone workers to share their location and movement with their employers, colleagues, or family members. They can also provide geo-fencing and alert features, which can notify the user or the contact if they enter or exit a predefined area, or if they stop moving for a certain period of time.

Some of the features, benefits, and limitations of using GPS trackers are:

  • They can help to monitor the whereabouts and activities of lone workers, and provide accurate and real-time data on their position, speed, distance, and route.
  • They can also help to improve the efficiency and productivity of lone workers, by allowing them to plan their schedules, optimise their routes, and avoid traffic or delays.
  • They can enhance the safety and security of lone workers, by enabling them to send an SOS signal or a check-in message to their contact in case of an emergency or a regular update. They can also receive assistance or instructions from their contact if needed.
  • However, they may not always work in areas with poor signal or network coverage, or if the device or app is switched off or damaged.
  • They may also raise some privacy and ethical concerns, such as the consent and awareness of the lone worker, the purpose and use of the data collected, and the potential misuse or abuse of the data by the employer or third parties.

GPS trackers are most suitable and effective for lone workers who:

  • Work in remote or isolated locations, such as rural areas, mountains, forests, etc., where they may not have access to other means of communication or assistance.
  • Work in mobile or dynamic environments, such as delivery drivers, couriers, taxi drivers, etc., where they need to travel frequently and efficiently between different destinations.
  • Work in high-risk or regulated environments, such as engineers, inspectors, repair and maintenance staff, etc., where they need to comply with certain rules or standards regarding their location and movement.

GPS Tracking on Lone Worker

Man Down Sensors

Man down sensors are devices or apps that detect if the user falls, faints, or becomes unconscious, and automatically send an alarm to a contact or a monitoring centre. They use various sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor, to measure the user’s posture, motion, and vital signs.

Some of the features, benefits, and limitations of using man down sensors are:

  • They can help to save lives and prevent serious injuries by alerting someone when a lone worker is in trouble and needs immediate medical attention.
  • They can also provide evidence and information about the incident, such as the location, time, and audio recording of the situation.
  • They can increase the confidence and security of lone workers who work in hazardous or isolated environments, where they may not be able to call for help themselves.
  • However, they may not always work in areas with poor signal or network coverage, or if the battery is low or dead.
  • They may also be triggered by false positives, such as sudden movements or changes in posture that are not related to a fall or a loss of consciousness.
  • They may also raise some privacy and ethical concerns, such as the consent and awareness of the lone worker, the purpose and use of the data collected, and the potential misuse or abuse of the data by the employer or third parties.

Man down sensors are most suitable and effective for lone workers who:

  • Work in high-risk environments or situations, such as working at height, working with machinery or electricity, working with hazardous substances or animals, etc.
  • Work in remote or isolated locations, such as rural areas, mountains, forests, etc., where they may not have access to other means of communication or assistance.
  • Work in health-related fields, such as health care workers, social workers, carers, etc., where they may have a higher risk of suffering a medical condition or a physical attack.

Man down sensor

Check-In Timers

Check-in timers are devices or apps that require the user to check in at regular intervals, either by pressing a button, sending a message, or making a call. If the user fails to check in within the specified time frame, the device or app will send an alert to a contact or a monitoring centre.

Some of the features, benefits, and limitations of using check-in timers are:

  • They can help to ensure the safety and well-being of lone workers, by reminding them to report their status and location, and by notifying someone if they are in trouble or unresponsive.
  • They can also help to improve the communication and accountability of lone workers, by allowing them to update their employer, colleagues, or family members on their progress and availability.
  • They can be customised to suit different types of lone workers, by allowing them to choose the frequency and method of check-in, and by providing different options for alerting and escalating incidents.
  • However, they may not always work in areas with poor signal or network coverage, or if the device or app is switched off or damaged.
  • They may also be inconvenient or disruptive for some lone workers, who may find the check-in process too frequent or intrusive, or who may forget or ignore the check-in reminders.

Check-in timers are most suitable and effective for lone workers who:

  • Work in low-risk environments or situations, where they do not face any immediate or serious threats to their safety or security, but still need to maintain regular contact with their employer or contact.
  • Work in flexible or variable environments, where they may not have a fixed schedule or location, and where they need to adjust their check-in frequency and method according to their changing circumstances.
  • Work in solo or independent roles, where they do not have any direct supervision or support from their employer or colleagues, and where they need to demonstrate their productivity and reliability.

spacebands lone worker solution

The spacebands' Solution

spacebands' lone worker solution is designed to keep workers safe and secure on site in a variety of ways. The lone worker feature acts as a check-in timer as outlined earlier in this article. This requires a member of staff to check in at allotted intervals to avoid triggering an alarm. If the check-in time is missed, an emergency contact is notified.

In addition to the lone worker feature, the spacebands wearable device also offers a Person Down/SOS Feature. spacebands’ SOS feature provides a quick and efficient means for employees to call for help during emergencies.

spacebands’ SOS automatically sends an immediate distress signal to all nearby devices when an SOS situation is detected. This can lead to faster medical assistance, timely evacuation, or the resolution of hazardous situations, potentially preventing further injuries and saving lives.

Notably, as spacebands' wearables work via bluetooth and not an internet signal - they are a lot more suited for isolated environments, such as mines and oil rigs. This solves the problem of connectivity, which was mentioned as a negative for panic alarms, GPS devices and check-in systems.

Data from person down events and lone worker alarms is saved to a cloud analytics dashboard, giving an overview of events and predictive analytics will offer advice based on historical events.

To learn more about the spacebands solution, book a demo and find out how spacebands can help you reduce accidents, increase productivity and lower insurance premiums.  Pricing plans are subscription based over 12 months, 24 months and 36 months.

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