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Encouraging Staff to Adopt Safer Lone Working Practices

28 June 2018
 June 28, 2018

So, you’ve carried out your risk assessment, scoured the market for lone worker protection, splashed out on brand new devices and rolled them out to all employees – but then you find that staff just aren’t using them… What do you do?

First, let’s take a look at some of the reasons that employees may not be using their devices:

  • They don’t think they’re necessary – Unless the reasons for having them are fully explained some workers may not see the point. Often people assume that accidents won’t happen to them, so it’s important to use real-world examples to demonstrate the risks associated with their roles.
  • Staff don’t know how to use them – This is why it’s not enough to just issue alarms, employees must be given training on how to operate and look after their device so they know what to do when they need it.
  • Fear of activating alarm by mistake – False alarms are an inconvenience but employees can take steps to reduce the likelihood by ensuring their device settings are adjusted and that it’s worn according to guidelines from the supplier, especially if the device has a ‘mandown’ feature.
  • Devices get in the way – If devices are uncomfortable or prevent workers from doing their job then unsurprisingly they may be reluctant to carry them. For example, a device worn around the neck may swing around or restrict movement for those doing physical work. A belt clip option may be more suitable in this case.
  • Mistrust of devices – Some lone worker alarms use GPS so they can see a user’s location in an emergency, but some employees may worry about their location being tracked at other times. Again, employers must communicate the important safety reasons that devices are needed so they have a clear understanding of their necessity.
  • Fear of change – It’s human nature for people to like familiarity and be apprehensive of change. If there’s an existing lone worker safety procedure it can take time for employees to get used to a new one. Some may also question the need for change, for example if they’d previously relied on their mobile in an emergency, they may not want to use devices instead.

Tips to Increase Lone Worker Device Usage

  • Speak to staff – If devices are not being used the first step in resolving this is speaking to employees and taking the time to listen to their concerns. Any issues they raise must be taken seriously and a clear plan of action put in place.
  • Involve them in the procurement process – Employees should be consulted early on so you can be sure their situation is fully understood and that any lone working solution fulfills their wants and needs. Bringing staff in at this stage helps them feel they’ve had their say and ultimately encourages employee buy-in.
  • Lead by example – Practice what you preach, workers are less inclined to carry their devices if those in charge don’t bother. Ensure those senior staff that should be using their alarms are good ambassadors for safer lone working.
  • Make sure employees know what is expected of them – Health and safety policies can often be long and cumbersome, make them easier to digest by producing a Q&A document for employees outlining key points with regards to safe lone working and using devices.
  • Training – Regular refreshers are essential to reiterate the reasons for having devices and how to operate them correctly.

Finally, perhaps if you’ve tried all of the above then it may be time to reassess if the solution you’ve chosen is the truly the right one for your employees. The purpose of lone worker devices is primarily to provide peace of mind and save lives, but they simply can’t do this if staff don’t use them.

For advice on lone worker protection and to arrange a demo with our experts call 0845 0360 999.