Providing a crucial link between London, Scotland and the North East, the company runs 155 train services a day, carrying around 19 million passengers every year. It employs a team of over 3,250 staff based in a variety of roles at stations, depots and offices across Britain.
Many of these positions involve lone working at times, sometimes in remote areas. It’s important for measures to be taken to protect employees, as there are a number of dangers they can encounter from aggressive fair evaders to drink-fuelled antisocial behavior. Indeed, official figures released by the Office of Rail and Road show in 2015-16 there were 6,960 staff across the UK’s railway network subjected to verbal abuse, threats and even physical assault.
The railway environment itself can also prove hazardous with fast moving trains and an increased risk of falls on slippery platforms during bad weather. Last year, 837 station staff in the UK suffered an injury at work, with slips and trips being the most common cause of workplace injury.
To help manage the risks and fulfil their Duty of Care to employees, Virgin Trains chose Skyguard, issuing MySOS personal alarms to staff on the frontline so they can work alone with increased confidence. Following a successful trial period, the company was especially impressed with the devices’ functionality, which allows a ‘mandown’ alert to be triggered after a sudden impact or fall, followed by a period of inactivity.
Staff working for Virgin Trains East Coast division use the MySOS as it is small, lightweight and can be worn and activated discreetly. Low-key alarm activation is a necessity, particularly if difficult circumstances arise such as altercations involving passengers. Pressing the SOS button on the unit opens up a two-way audio connection between the user and Skyguard’s Incident Management Centre (IMC). This enables trained Controllers to listen in and provide assistance, involving the emergency services if required. Audio can also be recorded and used as evidence in court to prosecute individuals if an offence takes place.
Devices can be issued to individual users or pooled so they can be easily shared between teams. MySOS provides flexibility, allowing the service to be tailored to Virgin’s needs.
The device has GPS connectivity so it can be located, even in remote areas out on route. It will also work in places with low mobile coverage when fitted with a roaming SIM card.
One of the major advantages that Skyguard’s Incident Management Centre offers Virgin Trains is that Controllers will already know who the user is and where they are, so they will be able to convey this to the emergency services immediately. Controllers can also pass on the main facts of the incident calmly and make them aware of any relevant information on medical conditions, as listed in the user’s customer profile.
As Skyguard is approved by the Police’s acclaimed ‘Secured by Design’ initiative and certified to BS 8484:2016 – the latest version of the British Standard for Lone Workers – this enables a faster emergency response than is available to the general public via the 999 system. If the emergency services are not required, MySOS also has two speed dial buttons which Virgin can set to call a supervisor or colleague for escalation purposes.
Providing adequate protection for rail staff is essential, especially for lone workers. Establishing appropriate procedures and methods by which employees can get help as quickly as possible is a must when working on trains and in stations.
Customer Solutions Manager, David Field at Virgin Trains East Coast speaks highly of the distinguished level of protection offered by Skyguard:
To see for yourself how Skyguard can protect lone workers within your organisation, why not register for a free no-obligation 30-day trial?