Getting To Know BS 8484: A Practical Guide to the Lone Worker Standard

The Peoplesafe service (and many of our lone worker devices) is fully accredited to BS 8484:2016 — the British Standard for the provision of lone worker safety device services. Read on to learn more about the standard…

Alternatively, you can download the PDF guide here.

BS 8484 Explained

BS8484 is the British Standard for the provision of lone worker safety device services. In 2009, the British Standards Institution (BSI) introduced the BS 8484 to set a benchmark for those who provide lone worker safety services.

To keep pace with developments, particularly with technology — earlier this year the BSI put together a committee of experts to review the standard. As a result of this review, in August 2016, the updated BS 8484 was launched. The previous version will be withdrawn on 28 February 2017.

The standard has been updated to act as a code of practice to providers of lone worker services. To achieve compliance with the standard, providers must be able to demonstrate to auditors that they meet all requirements.

BS 8484 has been updated to benefit lone workers, their employers, lone worker safety solution providers, and escalations and emergency services. 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.

Understanding BS 8484:2016

The reality of lone worker service provision is that the user experience needs to be as assured and effective as possible. This takes a depth of resources and expertise. The standard seeks to address this in three ways…

1. Choice

Guidance in meeting-  the needs of a lone worker is based upon the risk assessment process. There is a clear requirement for the supplier to explain how the needs of the client and their employees will benefit from the solution provided.

2. Quality of end-to-end service

Greater detail is now found in sections 5 to 7 relating to the devices and applications, the service, training, management information and the monitoring centre activities. Each section has greatly expanded the range of issues that need to be addressed within the service provision. In addition, the end-to-end service needs to be detailed and managed.

3. Transparency

When the safety of people is paramount, the associated service needs to be of a high quality and consistency. The new standard requires service providers to be more transparent when reporting to both clients and auditors.

Supplier Capabilities

Section four of the BS 8484 Standard 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. A comprehensive business operating manual should be in use, which includes details of how they handle complaints.

Providers should be able to demonstrate that they are financially stable, adequately insured, and that they have a robust policy around data. This policy should cover confidentiality, and how data should be retained and handled, as well as issues around security.

End-to-end service is also covered in this section. The requirements set out that all elements of the service are made clear before a client contract is signed, with a focus on integrity. A log of all events, including service failures, should be maintained for auditor inspection.

Providers should also be really clear about which of their safety solutions comply with BS 8484 – and which do not. As a customer, this is really important information to ask for.

Safety Apps & Devices

Section five 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. This allows for a more useful, fit-for-purpose range of solutions. Applications continue to be reliant upon the operating system for their ability to provide essential functionality. Advice is also provided on operating system upgrades.

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

Training & Support

Section six 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 frontline lone workers. As a minimum, this should include how to operate the devices or apps — including how to raise the alarm discreetly and how to minimise false alarms.

Providers should also provide support activities and management tools to help employers encourage usage of the devices or apps. This should include telephone and email support and regular reports, as well as access to refresher training.

They must also meet training requirements for their own employed staff, which includes covering all elements of the service they are supplying to customers.

Alarm Receiving Centres

Section seven deals with the 24/7 alarm receiving activities. This section 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 clearer detail on how to measure the timing of the critical points in the ARC Red Alert process.

The requirement for quality operators is underpinned by the training support and operational guidance that needs to be available. Increased transparency when reporting will provide greater reassurance for employers and their lone workers.

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

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of the BS8484 standard. If you would like to learn more about our fully-accredited service, please send us a quick message or call 0800 990 3563.