BS 8484 Explained

A Practical Guide to the Lone Worker Standard

In 2009, the British Standards Institution (BSI) introduced BS 8484 to set a benchmark for those who provide lone worker safety services.

The standard defines both lone worker devices and Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) compliance. It also covers aspects such as sound financial grounding, data security and training from the lone worker solution supplier.

To keep pace with developments — particularly with technology — the BSI put together a committee of experts to review the standard. As a result of this review, the standard was updated in 2011, 2016 and most recently in 2022.

Why is BS 8484 Important?

BS 8484 is important because it sets a standard of quality for lone worker solution providers and offers transparency to businesses using these services to keep their workers safe. While BS 8484 accreditation is not a legal requirement, it helps customers identify credible suppliers who have met the strict criteria set by the BSI.

The accreditation was introduced to improve the quality of lone worker services and to create a standard for which lone worker services can be benchmarked against. It also aims to reduce the number of false alarms received by the emergency services by implementing effective protocols and guidelines for alarm response.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) ensure that police will only respond to lone worker alarms if the solution provided is certified by audit to BS 8484 — making compliance vital.

BS 8484:2022

In March 2022, the latest version of BS 8484 was released, superseding the previous BS 8484:2016. Several updates have been made to the standard to benefit employees, their employers, lone worker safety solution providers, and escalation and emergency services. These updates include:

  • An acknowledgement that those working in pairs or small groups may be seen as “at risk” and so may benefit from the use of a lone worker system
  • An acknowledgement that those working from home (home workers) should be seen as “lone workers” and could benefit from using a lone working system
  • Acceptance that calls with lone workers may be made via data, rather than the “traditional” call networks
  • Staff involved in delivering lone working services (typically ARC workers) must be screened in accordance with BS 7858 (which is the UK standard for vetting people employed in the security sector)
  • The removal of most of the recommendations in Clause 7 (Alarm Receiving Centres), as this is covered in BS 9518

The standard now also notes that wellbeing is a crucial element in creating a safety culture within a company, it states “Considering employee safety, wellbeing and security at a strategic level leads to a culture of safety at work at the operational level.”.

To achieve compliance with the standard, providers must be able to demonstrate to auditors that they meet all requirements.

Key Elements

Section 4

This section sets out the business requirements that suppliers of lone worker safety services should adhere to.

Providers should be clear about the management structure of the organisation and be able to demonstrate control and accountability at every level.

Providers should be able to demonstrate that they are financially stable, adequately insured, and that they have a robust policy around data.

The requirements also set out that all elements of the service are made clear before a client contract is signed. A log of all events, including service failures, should be maintained for auditor inspection.

Providers should be clear about which of their safety solutions comply with BS 8484 – and which do not.

Section 5

This section has been updated to allow the choices between lone worker devices and applications to be understood in terms of the functions they provide and the level of risk management they offer.

With an updated range of essential functions, the section also advises the types of functions that would be ideal for the different types of lone workers. In BS 8484 this is split between people risk and environmental risk.

Given the ease of which data is increasingly available, solutions will be required to help ARC operators by reporting battery and signal status.

Section 6

This section is particularly important and focuses on what providers of lone worker safety solutions should deliver in terms of training and support.

If a lone worker safety initiative is to be successful, health and safety culture needs to be fully embedded in the workplace — and effective training is key to achieving this. To be truly safe, staff need to understand why they need to use their devices, not just how to use them.

To comply with BS 8484, providers should deliver lone worker training to both management and front-line lone workers. As a minimum, this should include how to operate the devices or apps.

Providers should also provide support activities and management tools such as email support and regular reports. They must also meet training requirements for their own employed staff.

Section 7

This section deals with the 24/7 alarm receiving activities and now provides a comprehensive input as to the quality and clarity of process required to achieve the standard for lone worker safety.

Mandatory response times to incoming alerts have been reduced to 10 seconds in 80% of occasions. There is also clearer detail on how to measure the timing of the critical points in the ARC SOS alarm process.

The requirement for quality operators is underpinned by the training support and operational guidance that needs to be available.

The few changes to this section deal with ensuring accurate and effective escalation process, including recognition of the police policies for lone worker systems.

Section 8

This section relates to the response services provided in the event of an SOS alarm being raised.

Suppliers of lone worker services need to ensure that the stated response requirements are consistent with the policies and capabilities of the response services.

This could be via the emergency services (e.g. police, ambulance etc.); nominated in-house escalation contacts (e.g. manager, supervisor or another lone worker), or a contracted response (e.g. Peoplesafe’s National Response service).

Security companies wishing to provide a response to lone worker alarms should conform to BS 7984-2 which includes specific training recommendations for mobile response staff.

Peoplesafe and BS 8484:2022

We are accredited with all five parts of BS 8484:2022

  • The company – its stability, insurance, premises, staff and financial backing
  • The products – and their fitness for purpose
  • The staff – Alarm controllers, client training and support
  • The Alarm Receiving Centre – and its capability to monitor and manage alarms
  • The response services – and our ability to deal with emergency situations

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If you would like to learn more about our fully-accredited service, please get in touch.
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