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What if Your Lone Worker Solution Isn't Getting Used?

Is a lone worker solution a cost to an organization or an investment in staff safety? Most employers will see it as a bit of both depending on the activities and responsibilities associated with various job roles.

Like anything that requires a financial investment, the benefits must be assessed in line with wider budget demands but corporate attitudes to safety are often deeply ingrained into an organization's culture. Some immediately buy into the need for better staff safety – whether it’s PPE, smarter and safer systems, or a lone worker solution.

Finding an appropriate lone worker solution involves staff at all levels. Ensuring proper implementation and high adoption is a significant undertaking. And what are the main deciding factors? Is it usability or price? Some cheap solutions may well comply with everything a client needs on paper, but what if it doesn't ever get used? Who's responsible?

In purely financial terms, a specifier may get a great price, but if usage is low, any 'savings' is actually a false economy. Usage is the key metric in evaluating successful solution adoption. Is it sticky enough for staff to see the benefits and integrate into their routine and apparel?

How does an organization implement the solution? Whether mandatory usage or down to individual choice. Including lone worker safety technology in policy, and employment contracts does support better usage. However it’s implemented, it needs to reflect the culture of an organization.

This prompts a couple of questions:

i) What’s the current usage level for your lone worker solution?

ii) In the aftermath of a serious incident, how is culpability affected if a solution is knowingly under-utilized and an organization's policy hasn't factored in trying to change that?

Fear factor:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA), a division of the US Department of Labor, reported in its 2015 Enforcement Summary that in FY 2015, OSHA conducted 35,820 total inspections. This number includes 123 significant enforcement actions [including eight egregious (instance-by-instance) cases]. In addition, OSHA conducted 19,293 unprogrammed inspections, initiated through employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals. OSHA also conducted 16,527 programmed inspections.

Of the 65,044 total violations found, there were: 47,934 serious violations, 527 willful violations, 3,098 repeat violations, and 13,016 other-than serious violations. Fines for these violations can carry maximum penalties ranging from $12,600 to $126,000.

It is reasonable to assume that in a chain of events where lone worker technology could have assisted a situation, the merits of the solution's deployment, inclusion in policy, usage by staff, management reporting delivered etc. will potentially be considered as part of the process.

Right to reply?

In our experience, involving the workforce in the selection of a solution is critical for long-term success. This may require researching a number of solutions and even implementing a mix of dedicated devices or apps across the business based on worker needs.

Partnering with staff, reviewing feedback and comparing usage data will assist the process. This is a cyclical process that should be repeated because it will continue to benefit the organization long-term.

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