Following the recent drastic announcements by the Sentencing Guidelines Council that advises Courts in the award of punishments as the consequences for firms contravening health and safety legislation, Tom Morton, CEO of Argyll, the UK’s largest lone worker service provider, advises employers how they can safely mitigate corporate risks using existing technology.
In addition to robust management processes, the HSE recommends that managing the safety of a workforce isolated from their colleagues requires efficient communications to be maintained between the employee and their employer.
Pragmatic employers already acknowledge that it is almost impossible to continuously supervise lone workers manually and that software based lone worker solutions are widely available and can operate 24 hours. These solutions are capable of being accessed via standard mobile phones, smart-phones and specialized lone worker devices and so it is possible to meet the minimum requirement of the HSE guidance and communicate regularly with your lone workers. These software systems enable employers to manage their corporate exposure to health and safety risks and release valuable management time to focus on core business activities rather than day-day health & safety administration.
New ‘specialized’ automatic warning devices, which operate if specific signals are not received from the lone worker (eg man-down devices) are widely available but employers should guard against the temptation for widespread deployment since not all devices currently available will offer compliance with the minimum features recommended within the published lone worker industry standard BS8484. Fundamentally these type of devices are not always required by every lone worker within the organization and any decision to deploy highly specialized equipment could be costly. In real terms this should only be considered once the organisation’s risk assessment identifies a specific risk or system improvement requirement and where mitigation of the risk cannot be achieved using other equipment or assets.