This years Lone Worker Safety expo saw professionals and experts from across the UK come together at London Olympia. The crowd was mixed. From those working alone or managing lone workers, to those providing services which help protect workers in the field.
Lone workers can be vital to the way a business or organisation operates and sometimes it isn’t viable to send employees out in pairs or groups. Therefore, understanding the world of lone working and how to best protect these employees is crucial.
Talks were held throughout the day by many knowledgeable and passionate speakers. Not only were the talks informative but they were also highly engaging with several containing interactive elements. Whether this was reading a partner’s body language or discussing ideas on how to make leaving a difficult situation easier, everyone in the room was happy to get involved and learn from each other as well as the speakers.
Several stories were shared of lone workers meeting clients alone and being threatened, attacked and even killed. While the more severe cases may be rare, Walter Brennan, Managing Director of Oliver Brennan Training, shared a statistic that 31% of lone workers have been subjected to assault of some kind, and a further 17% were unsure. Speaker Nicole Vazquez, Managing Director of Worthwhile Training, found that for some lone works there is a misconception that violence comes with the job and is to be expected. This belief and the constant fear of entering unknown situations alone can cause extreme emotional harm.
Despite the range of speakers presenting at the event, there was a running theme to the key messages shared. Many talks focused largely on how lone workers should be kept safe and four key topics kept coming up throughout the day:
First of all, every business or organisation should have a number of health and safety polices and procedures in place. As part of this, risk assessments need to be carried out before and after a lone worker enters the field. There are a number of ways risk assessments could be carried out but each situation should be assessed to determine whether it is safe enough to send a lone worker into.
De-fusing and de-escalating a threat
If a lone worker begins to feel uncomfortable or threatened, they should be aware of how to react in order to defuse the situation rather than to react with physical force. Training could be extremely helpful in teaching lone workers how to do so. However, lone workers should always trust their gut instinct and leave a situation they feel could become dangerous.
There may be some cases where a threat can not be reasoned with or resolved. Lone workers may be physically attacked in these situations and knowing how to react is important in causing them the least harm possible. Self-defence techniques may need to be used and in some cases it may be important to protect lone workers with protective clothing. Protective clothing could prevent injury from anything from biting to knife attacks.
The importance of knowing where an employee is when they go out on their own was bought up several times throughout the day. Whether this be in the form of a buddy system or a more advanced tracking system, it is vital to lone worker safety that someone else is aware of where they are even in the case of a last minute diary change. Monitoring lone worker’s location will limit the severity of a situation by getting the appropriate help to them as quickly as possible.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCURATE LOCATION TRACKING
This is where our StaySafe Business App comes in. StaySafe offers an efficient and reliable way of tracking lone workers as they work. The app allows lone workers to be tracked in real time and monitored on an online hub by the employer, an external company or a mixture of both. Checking in to a session activates accurate GPS tracking which plots the worker as they travel. A note section as part of this allows the worker to document the clients name or exact location in a block of flats. This is particularly useful following a last minute change of appointment as the monitor is able to see exactly who they are with and where the new appointment is taking place.
StaySafe exhibited the app along with our new SuperHub during the event. Here we were able to meet professionals working within a wide range of sectors and industries. The fact that attendees came from housing associations and local councils to NHS bodies and outreach charities, highlights the range of businesses and organisations utilising lone workers to carry out a service. It is also clear from the turnout at the event that there is a need and desire to keep these lone workers safe.
Many other solutions were being exhibited at the event, from training programmes to lone worker safety devices and protective equipment. Finding out about and testing a number of solutions is an equally important part on an event as networking and educating individuals on the safety of lone working.
If you missed out on this years Lone Worker Safety Conference, you can still get in contact with StaySafe for more information about our app by visiting our website http://staysafeapp.s072.clients.ontinuity.co.uk/staysafe-business/ or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow us on Twitter @staysafe