The text message that can save a life

Employees working alone face risks that are sometimes unpredictable. Having robust lone worker procedures in place can help save the lives of your employees, writes Klaus Allion, managing director at ANT Telecom.

We have recently implemented a solution for one of our long-term customers to prevent workplace incidents. Although there are already a variety of health and safety initiatives in place, the safety-conscious company wanted to go a step further to better protect its lone workers.

In that company, the employees working on site often undertake jobs that involve maintaining, and if needed, repairing complex and sometimes hazardous machinery.

Due to the nature of the business, needing to fulfil and deliver customers’ orders on time, any machine maintenance and repair work conducted is time-sensitive as it is paramount to keep all machinery in working order to ensure optimum output, as any downtime can cause delays in the production line.

Consequently, it’s crucial that the business has a robust mobile communication system in place to ensure that employees can receive and respond instantly to any incidents that occur on site and these can be rectified quickly and safely.

The integrated communications solution was put to the test when, unfortunately, a lone working engineer collapsed out of the sight of other colleagues. The employee was diabetic and with no warning or time to alert a colleague for help, he quickly fell unconscious and required immediate medical assistance. 

Due to the advanced array of health and safety policies the business already had in place, the instant the engineer fell unconscious, an alarm was triggered by the tilt feature of the engineer’s mobile device, alerting other employees the incident.

The staff, quickly mobilised, discovered their colleague in a corridor, thanks to a well drilled alarm procedure. The unconscious employee came around after receiving immediate treatment in the ambulance and was then taken to hospital.

Good communication systems ensure lone workers are able to communicate across the site in case of need. Photograph: iStock/Tempura

The organisation in question really values its workforce and it knows they are its most important asset. It has invested heavily in training and education to secure and guarantee continuity of its knowledge and expertise, but its health and safety initiatives have remained its number one priority.

The business wants to ensure that all its employees are equipped to raise an alarm, should they come into difficulty, particularly if they are lone workers. It understands that in a time-sensitive scenario, every second counts and has implemented protocols so that help gets to employees as quickly as possible. This proved vital in the case of its diabetic employee.

If colleagues had not found him when they had, it could have been a very different outcome.

Innovative technology often puts the minds of companies and their workforce at rest. Jobs can be carried out, knowing that if a workplace accident should occur, an alarm will be raised and colleagues would be notified of the incident.

In this scenario, communications systems guarantee that employees can communicate across the site, which helps protect lone workers. Devices with panic buttons and tilt sensors integrated within them would prompt and distribute alarms via alarm messaging applications to other colleagues, so that they can acknowledge and respond accordingly.

Drafting a successful rapid response procedure that both notifies and mobilises nearby employees can be relatively straightforward. The deployment of such solutions depends on businesses reassessing their procedures and strategies and utilising technologies that consider the specific challenges of their lone workers’ environment.

It’s about having a holistic and inclusive approach to implementing a system that matches the employees’ specific day-to-day requirements

Klaus Allion is managing director at ANT Telecom