Lessons Learned: Implementing a Lone Worker Safety System

When it comes to implementing a lone worker safety system, choosing the right device is just part of the answer. To get the best return on investment, achieving staff buy-in is essential — but not always easy.

At the 2016 Safety and Health Expo, we were joined by guest speakers from a couple of organisations who have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt when it comes to engaging employees and encouraging compliance.

Here, they share the lessons learned along the way…

e surve.surv are one of the largest residential surveying firms in the UK, employing 900 people. Half of these employees work as surveyors, mainly from home. Risks include visiting multiple properties each day, long drives, and urban congestion.

Q&A with Sarah Haigh — Quality, Health, Safety & Environment Manager

Consider the demographics of your workforce

The majority of the workforce are remote lone workers and follow standard practice techniques. These techniques have been in place for a number of years. So we knew from the get-go that we wanted to take our time to make the right decision in terms of what to implement.

Choose carefully

Eight devices were initially reviewed, which we narrowed down to four potential devices that appeared best fit. Five percent of our surveyors were used to trial the devices for a minimum of one month, enabling us to make our final choice.

Anticipate the challenges

We used what we learned from consultations with staff to prepare Q&A sheets ahead of the training sessions. No training session was complete until all attendees were comfortable with the device’s features and how to use them.

Once you start talking about safety solutions, implement them quickly

For us, implementation had to be professional but also a priority. It’s important to keep the momentum going in order to maintain the support of staff. We’re proud that we currently have 85 percent compliance, but of course, we’re striving for 100 per cent.

Use real life examples to encourage staff compliance

Since implementation, there were two separate events when our staff admitted they wished they had carried their devices. In one case, a surveyor found himself feeling very intimidated when he visited clients in their home. He felt trapped and vulnerable and was unable to discreetly call anyone with his mobile phone. If he had been carrying his device he could have issued a Red Alert with one press of a button.

In a very different example, a surveyor had visited a house and witnessed domestic abuse. He was later asked to give evidence in court and realised that if he had been wearing his device, it could have captured all the audio.

Blackpool Coastal Housing Use PeoplesafeBlackpool Coastal Housing has 180 employees and manages 5000 homes on behalf of Blackpool Council. Lone workers include maintenance staff and housing officers.

Q&A with Denise Williams — Head of Service Housing Operations

Gather the opinions of staff before making decisions

This was really important to us. We ran an initial trial and throughout this time we gathered feedback through surveys, questionnaires and one-to-one consultations. We then used this feedback to identify training requirements, and it helped for staff to feel involved in the process.

Don’t underestimate the importance of training

As well as comprehensive initial training, we also run refreshers every 18 months. As well as ensuring the devices are being used in the right way, the sessions also remind our staff of why using them is so important. Ensuring that key managers fully understand how to use the monitoring systems is imperative, and an element that shouldn’t be rushed.

Don’t miss out middle management

For our frontline staff, their first port of call with questions and concerns is their line manager, and in hindsight, we would have spent more time engaging with middle management to ensure they had enough knowledge to really get behind the systems. It’s important to create champions at all levels.

Align messaging with the values of the organisation

At BCH we talk a lot about empowering employees and in terms of lone worker safety. Our key message to staff is that by equipping them with devices, we are empowering them to go out and do their job with confidence.

If you’re yet to make a decision around which lone worker safety solutions to invest in, then you’re in a great position to encourage employee buy-in from the start.

Alternatively, if you have already implemented devices, but they are not being used properly, then you need to understand why and break those barriers down.

In either case, your chosen supplier of lone worker safety solutions should help you and your staff get the most from the devices. Because confident and consistent users are the foundation of any effective lone worker safety system.