BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard explained

BS 8484 is the British Standard for lone worker safety services. But why was it introduced, why is it important, and what's included?

What is BS 8484?

BS 8484 is the British Standard for the provision of lone worker safety services. First introduced by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in 2009, the code of practice has been updated in 2011, 2016 and 2022 to ensure it properly reflects technological advancements, including smartphones.

Why was BS 8484 introduced?

Increasingly, people across the UK are working alone (especially post Covid) and this comes with increased social and environmental risk. Therefore, employers are looking to providers of lone worker safety services to give their colleagues a reliable means to call for help in an emergency.

Given the indisputable importance of providing a quality service, the security industry was keen to promote best practices and create a benchmark against which providers of lone worker security services can be measured.

Moreover, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC – formerly ACPO), which is responsible for controlling the police response to lone worker alarms, saw a need to better manage the demands on police resources and reduce the number of false alarms received by response services.

Why is BS 8484 important?

Having a BS 8484 accreditation is not a legal requirement. However, it helps customers to identify credible suppliers who have met the government’s rigorous criteria.

The standard offers clarity over the features, services and response customers can expect from their lone worker solution provider in terms of:

NSI Gold LogoFor example, it states that, in a "Red Alert" situation, from the initial button press, any lone worker device or app should successfully connect with the ARC within 30 seconds. SoloProtect achieves this "time to listen" time in just 4 seconds, on average.

To achieve BS 8484 accreditation, providers have to pass a strict external audit to demonstrate compliance in all areas. SoloProtect is audited by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and is NSI Gold certified.

What does BS 8484 include?

The key elements of the BS 8484 standard are:

  • Supplier Recommendations (Section 4)

BS 8484 looks at the structure of a business and how it operates - its management, integrity, financial stability, insurance, security, and data retention and handling.

  • Lone Worker Device or Application (Section 5)

The code of practice looks at the essential functionality required from a lone worker device or application, and how it can be used to reduce the impact of both 'people risk' and 'environmental risk'. Specifically, it states that a device should have discreet panic alarm functionality and high-quality audio transmission to ensure an appropriate response.

  • Training and Support (Section 6)

The standard explains that a supplier should provide clear training to its customers and employees to ensure effective use of the solution and to minimise false alarms. It also outlines a range of communication mechanisms that should be in place to give customers good support and the opportunity to maximise their investment.

  • Alarm Receiving Centres (Section 7)

The 2016 version of the standard included stringent ARC requirements in terms of physical building security, operational resilience (business continuity), and staff vetting and training. However, to avoid duplication, the 2022 standard purely states that suppliers should conform to other relevant ARC standards including:

  • BS EN 50518 – European Standard for Alarm Receiving Centres
  • BS 8591 – British Standard for Remote Centres Receiving Signals from Alarm Systems – Code of Practice
  • BS 5979 – British Standard for Remote Centres Receiving Signals from Fire and Security Systems – Code of Practice

Note: As a result of the publication of the BS EN 50518 series, BS 5979:2007 was withdrawn. However, customers may wish to continue using ARCs which conform to BS 5979:2007.

BS 8484, plus compliance with NPCC guidelines, ensures a level 1 emergency response

Accreditation against the standard, alongside compliance with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) guidelines, ensures that, where appropriate, a lone worker alarm can be escalated to the police via a Unique Reference Number (URN). This allows the ARC to bypass the central 999 system and instead dial directly into the control room of the relevant police force. This makes the process as efficient as possible, potentially saving time when every second counts for a lone worker in distress.

What’s more, any incident reported via a URN is guaranteed a level 1 police response.

BS 8484Is SoloProtect BS 8484:2022 accredited?

SoloProtect was audited and approved against BS 8484:2022 in October 2022 by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).

We aim not just to comply with the code of practice but to exceed it. We demonstrate this in our "time to listen" time (explained above) but also in our "time to verify" (TTV) time (the time it takes our operators to verify the seriousness of an incident and begin to initiate a response). At SoloProtect our TTV is 41 seconds, on average. This is only one-quarter of the time needed to comply with the standard and, at the time of writing, isn’t a statistic that is published by any other lone worker protection provider.

Note: our ARC is managed in-house and is certified to EN 50518, and we are also accredited to ISO 27001, ISO 9001, Cyber Essentials Plus, and BS 7858. Read more about our accreditations.

What's the difference between BS 8484:2016 and BS 8484:2022?

There are several differences between the BS 8484:2016 and BS 8484:2022 standards. These are explained below:

  • It’s not only people who work alone who may benefit from a lone worker solution. The 2022 standard notes that those who work in pairs (see our blog on using a buddy system to keep workers safe) or in small groups may also be "at risk".

  • As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s a much higher proportion of people now working at home. Organisations should consider adopting a lone worker safety solution to help protect their homeworkers, ensuring they can easily call for help in an emergency during their working day or shift.

  • Technology has moved apace since 2016, with many people now using data to make calls, rather than traditional cellular networks. The new standard notes that calls made via a lone worker safety device may also now use data, such as SoloProtect’s new range of 4G touchscreen devices. You can find out more about these here: Lone Worker Solutions.

  • All staff involved in the delivery of lone worker safety must be screened in accordance with BS 7858 (British Standard for Security Screening) - also a requirement of EN 50518. All SoloProtect colleagues are screened before starting work for us.

  • There’s a much greater emphasis on information security, including information security risk assessments, and mitigation and control measures, particularly in relation to assessing suppliers. Lone worker safety providers should also ensure that any subcontractors have the appropriate data handling policies in place.

  • The new standard recommends that all information security policies and risk assessments are reviewed annually, or more regularly if necessary (depending on the risk and/or if an incident has occurred).

  • Most of the recommendations for Alarm Receiving Centres have been removed because they are now included in the new BS 9518 standard.

Further information

If you’d like to understand more about SoloProtect’s BS 8484:2022 accreditation and how this benefits our customers in the UK, please get in touch with us using the form below.

Or, you can find out more about the cost of a lone worker safety solution in our blog.

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