GPS Tracking Helps Protect Lone Workers

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Government Health and Safety organizations provide their respective business populations with a wide range of advice as to how to protect their workforce, including lone workers. For example, in the Health and Safety Executive has released a 'Working Alone' advice leaflet,which provides health and safety best practice advice on managing the risks confronting lone workers.

This document provides employers with best practice guidelines on how to keep their lone working environment as safe as practicable. Whilst the advice and guidance in this document is not mandatory, it is intended to help employers understand what they need to do to meet with their legal duties towards lone workers under the UK Health and Safety regulations.

A key point in this regulation is that it is the employer's duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. Lone workers may be people in fixed establishments or people working away from a regular base.

Examples of people working in a fixed establishment include those working in small shops, working at home, or in isolated parts of a large building (including working out of normal hours).

People who are considered to be working away from a fixed base include those involved in civil engineering, plant installation, remote maintenance and external cleaning work, as well as service workers such as social workers, nursing professionals, sales representatives and drivers.

When compiling a risk assessment, common examples of hazards are "violence and threatening behaviour" and "working alone". At the minimum, we might expect to see that an employer has issued a mobile phone to the employee so that they may summon help in the event that they do not have access to a landline. However, this is not necessarily always sufficient, and when reviewing what further action may be necessary, the next level of protection is often to consider providing a panic alarm facility. To be effective, a panic alarm will not only be able to alert an employee's supervisors in the event of an emergency, but should be simple to activate, and ideally also provide an accurate location at the same time.

Now there are a range of different devices that are able to meet this requirement.

On the one hand, the lone worker could be provided with a standard mobile phone with an in-built GPS mobile phone tracking capability, running some tracking software that turns it into a GPS tracking device.

Alternatively, a dedicated lone-worker tracking unit designed for the purpose may be more appropriate. Typically, these units are simple to operate and provide limited mobile voice calling capabilities, for example to a small number of pre-programmed numbers, as well as a panic alarm button.

For employees that need a mobile phone anyway to carry out their work, then the first alternative makes a great deal of sense, whereas for employees that should only ever need to contact a couple of phone numbers, then a dedicated lone worker tracking device will provide everything that the employer needs to manage their risk, without the risk that the employee may abuse the privilege of having a fully functional phone.


Iain Jones is with Zest Tracking, a leading UK provider of Mobile Phone tracking and Lone Worker Tracking and Alarm solutions.

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