What Is A ‘Fall Detection’ Alarm?

Posted: 4 Jul, 2023.

A fall alarm, or fall detection alarm, is a personal device that will automatically call for help when the user suffers a fall due to a slip, trip or other medical problem. A device or app equipped with the fall detection feature (also known as man down) will detect when the user falls over and will automatically activate a SOS alarm, meaning the user is not required to manually press a button and can get help even if they are unconscious.

Our core lone worker devices are all capable of detecting a slip, trip or fall and raising an alarm automatically.

The Health and Safety Executive consistently report that over 500,000 workers suffer a non-fatal injury every year, with the main causes being:

  • Slips, trips or falls on the same level
  • Handling, lifting or carrying
  • Struck by a moving object
  • Acts of violence
  • Falls from height

Slips, trips and falls can lead to serious injuries such as broken bones or head injuries. Without immediate assistance, these can lead to more major consequences and can have a serious impact on a worker’s wellbeing. Especially for vulnerable workers or those who work alone for long periods of time without direct supervision. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults aged 65 and older.

Who should use a fall detection alarm?

Although fall detection alarms are often associated with older workers, employees of any age and in a range of sectors can benefit from a fall alarm. This includes:

  • Lone workers – Lone workersare likely to have no immediate access to help in an emergency, so could be left unassisted in the event of a fall.
  • Those at increased risk – Anyone who is predisposed to a risk of slips, trips or falls (e.g., someone with epilepsy) and works alone for any period of the day.
  • Employees working at height – Employees who work at height, such as on scaffolding or up ladders, are at an increased risk of falling.
  • Employees who work with moving machinery – If it is ride-on machinery (e.g., digger), the employee is at risk of falling off. Contact with moving machinery caused over 20 workplace fatalities every year.
  • Workers in high-risk environments – Those working in environments where hazards such as uneven flooring, spills, trailing cables or poor lighting are present.
  • Employees working on large sites – Those working on large sites may not be seen or heard in the event of an accident.
  • Those working with live animals – Agriculture, forestry and fishing have the highest percentage rate of workplace injury

Who is at increased risk of falling?

There are many different reasons that someone may be at increased risk of falling. These include:

  • Muscle weakness – This could be due to a number of conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, a stroke or diabetes.
  • Anyone with poor vision – This can make it difficult to see obstacles, which can lead to slips, trips and falls.
  • Those on specific medications – Some medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness or make users more likely to pass out.
  • Workers with medical conditions – People with medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or anaemia may be at increased risk of falling. Additionally, those with medical conditions prone to seizures are more likely to fall.
  • Older employees – older workers may be at more risk of falls due to a decline in muscle strength and balance.

How does fall detection work?

Scenarios where a user falls unconscious due to a slip, trip or a medical condition are one of the major causes of concern for many lone workers. This is because they are unable to alert someone even if they have a communication device or just a general personal safety alarm, which would require the user’s manual input. In these instances, the user could be left without help for an extended period of time.

In such scenarios, the fall detection feature within Peoplesafe solutions will detect that fall and raise an alarm directly to the Controllers in ourAlarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Our patented fall detection feature uses three factors that mimic a falling motion to raise an alarm and will raise an alarm once it detects all three of these events:

  1. A fall from a height,
  2. A period of non-movement and,
  3. A change in orientation.

When all three factors have been detected, the device or smartphone will vibrate to tell the user that an alarm is being raised. The Controllers in our Alarm Receiving Centre will know that it is a fall detection alarm and proceed accordingly.

The Controllers are fully trained to deal with different types of situations, so will attempt to communicate with the user by using the 2-way audio capability. If the Controller believes that the user needs immediate medical assistance, they will summon the emergency services directly to the user’s location using the device’s built-in GPS capability.

Additionally, to ensure accuracy and cater to individual preferences, the sensitivity of Peoplesafe’s fall detection feature can be adjusted to suit the needs of the user and ensure maximum accuracy. Users can also wear their device in a range of holsters to ensure it is easily accessible and is able to correctly identify a slip, trip or fall.

What are the benefits of a fall detection alarm?

Although there are legal measures that can and should be implemented to minimize the risk of falls, accidents can still happen due to human error. Considering this, the implementation of a fall alarm system becomes crucial, ensuring that no individual is left unattended in the event of an accident. This not only enables businesses to fulfil their duty of care more effectively but also provides employees with reassurance and peace of mind that if they were to unexpectedly fall while alone, help would be readily available.

Having a fall detection alarm that is supported by an ARC means that employees can receive help 24/7/365. Providing immediate assistance in the event of a serious accident or a medical emergency is vitally important, as every minute that passes without aid could be lethal. Implementing a service with fall detection capabilities can have a significant impact on long-term outcomes and quality of life of the user in an emergency.

Morrisons case study

In 2023, Morrisons were fined £3.5 million for failing to ensure the safety of and neglecting their responsibilities towards a vulnerable employee.

On 25 September 2014, Matthew Gunn, 27, had been going upstairs to his work locker at the supermarket’s Tewkesbury store. Here, it is believed he had a seizure on the stairs, and fell, causing fatal head injuries.

The court findings revealed that Morrisons was aware of Matthew’s epileptic condition, yet they missed several opportunities to implement measures that could have prevented this tragic incident, for example providing him with a locker downstairs and giving him discounted rates at the public cafeteria instead of using the staff canteen located upstairs. It was also found that Morrisons failed to conduct a proper risk assessment that considered the potential risks faced by an employee with epilepsy.

This large fine serves as a clear message to all employers about the importance of complying with health and safety duties and taking necessary precautions.

Peter Tonge, Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Head of Community Services, commented: “We hope this court outcome will send a message to all employers of the importance of complying with basic health and safety duties, and properly assessing risks, especially when it comes to vulnerable employees.”

For more information on fall detection, download our infographic.

If you would like a demonstration of our fall detection feature or find out more about our range of devices with fall detection capabilities, then please contact our sales team at 0800 990 3563 or email sales@peoplesafe.co.uk

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