Panic alarms for lone workers
Equipping lone workers with panic alarms is extremely important, because unlike traditional employees, lone workers are unable to receive assistance from nearby colleagues in a difficult or emergency situation – such as an injury or attack.
Every employer holds a legal duty of care to their lone working staff and should have policies and systems in place to ensure they are safe, whether they work alone for all or only part of their working day. Panic alarms offer a way for organisations to ensure that someone is alerted in an emergency so to prevent escalation and further harm.
There are several types of lone worker panic alarms, each of which have slightly different purposes. We take a look at some of these below.
What is a lone worker device?
A lone worker device is a system that allows lone workers to signal for help in an emergency situation. A lone worker device can take the form of a physical device to be worn on the lone worker’s person, or an app downloaded onto the lone worker’s phone.
A lone worker device should offer a range of functionality including GPS tracking and a panic alarm – to allow the lone worker to quickly signal for help, while allowing the business to send support directly to their location.
Why would a lone worker need a panic alarm?
If a lone worker suffers an injury and is immobilised or is faced with an attacker, they may not be able to receive help from someone nearby. They may be out of sight and sound, working behind closed doors or in a remote location.
Reducing response times
In such a situation, the time taken to receive assistance could be the difference between a minor incident and a serious one. Statistics show that in the case of severe bleeding, the survival rate decreases by 10% for every 15-minute delay (The Lancet, 2017). Cardiac arrest survival rates decrease 7-10% every minute in response time (American Heart Association).
Lone worker devices and panic alarms ensure that if an accident or incident does occur, not only can the lone worker signal for help, they can also be located immediately, thus reducing response time.
Legal duty of care
From a business point of view, the employer holds a duty of care to ensure employees are safe while they work. Therefore, it is important to have a check-in system in place as well as a reliable way for the lone worker to signal for help, in order to meet a legal and moral duty of care.
In many parts of the world maintaining regular contact with lone workers and having emergency procedures in place is a legal requirement. Countries such as New Zealand and Canada have legislation specific to lone working while regulatory bodies provide official advice for managing the safety of lone workers in countries such as the UK.
The failure to have effective systems in place could lead to serious consequences and the employer could face legal proceedings, fines and a reputation hit amongst other costs.
How does a panic alarm work?
A panic alarm usually works by pressing a button on a lone worker device or app. When a panic alarm is triggered, a monitor will be notified immediately via SMS, email or via an online hub. Important information such as the lone worker’s phone number and location, will be sent to the monitor so that the alarm can be verified, and assistance sent directly to them.
Monitoring can be carried out in house by the employer or by a monitoring and response center. If monitoring in house, the organisation will assign a monitor or group of monitors who will receive notifications of an alert and will know how to respond according to the organisation’s policy. Any verified alerts can be escalated to the police along with any additional information provided by the lone worker system, such as location and notes on who they are meeting with.
If monitoring via a monitoring station, they will verify the alert and escalate to the right channels whether that be back to the organisation, to their own team of responders or the emergency services.
Can I use my phone as a panic button?
Lone worker apps such as StaySafe offer a panic button downloaded straight to a lone worker’s phone. This provides a low cost, easily accessible way for lone workers to signal for help without having to rely on remembering and charging an additional device.
How they work is simple. A lone worker downloads the app from the relevant app store and uses log in details provided to them. This ensures they are linked up to the monitoring hub. A panic alarm can be triggered at any time by tapping a large button on the app.
Lone worker apps offer a host of functionality aside from a panic button including low signal mode for those working in areas where making a data signal can be difficult.
What type of lone worker alarms are available?
There are a range of lone worker alarms available in the marketplace with the 3 most common being dedicated devices, apps and fixed panic buttons. Each of these serve their own purpose and help organisations to overcome specific lone worker challenges.
While lone worker devices were once the most widely used, lone worker apps are increasing in popularity as organisation’s begin to realise their potential. In fact, a recent report by Berg Insights predicts that app-based solutions will increase their share of the marker in the coming years. They currently make up over 20% of the market in Europe and 40% in North America.
Fixed panic buttons
Fixed panic buttons are typically found in stores dealing with large amounts of money, such as jewellery stores, banks, betting shops and other retail stores as well as behind receptionist desks. Often linked to a monitoring station or the emergency services, panic buttons can be triggered to call for help when faced with a robber or violent customer.
Placed somewhere discreetly, fixed panic buttons may be particularly useful when working alone, as with only one employee for the attacker to focus on, a single worker becomes more vulnerable.
However, fixed buttons are limited in that they can only be triggered from a certain location. Therefore, the lone worker has to be in close proximity to the button when an incident occurs to be able to trigger the panic alarm. While this may not be a problem when the lone worker is behind the desk, what if they are on the shop floor or in the back office during an incident?
Lone worker apps and devices
Lone worker apps and devices can be beneficial in such situations, as well as during travel and in work environments where no panic buttons are present.
Mobile apps and devices can be carried on a worker’s person or even worn around the neck or clipped to clothing. With convenient access, the lone worker panic alarm can be triggered quickly and easily.
Lone worker apps and devices also offer additional functionality that can be crucial in lone working situations. For example, man-down alerts will detect a fall or non-movement when a lone worker becomes immobilised, while discreet panic options allow an alert to be triggered when confronted by an aggressor.
StaySafe offers a wide range of functionality developed specifically for common lone worker challenges. The ability to update an app remotely also means that new functionality can continually be developed as technology advances.
More information on StaySafe’s products can be found below.
What is a duress alarm system?
Another great piece of functionality offered by lone worker apps is the duress alarm system which can be used in situations where an attacker is forcing the lone worker to close a panic alarm. This is usually carried out by entering a false PIN which will appear as though an alert has been cancelled when in fact a Duress alert will have been sent to a monitor.
Personal alarms for lone workers from StaySafe
StaySafe offer a lone worker app that includes a panic button. The panic button can be triggered at any time by pressing a button on the app or alternatively, a panic can be triggered discreetly by pushing the phone’s power button 4 times.
For lone workers who may not be able to access their phone in an emergency situation, StaySafe also offer a small wearable button that can be linked to the app in order to trigger a panic. The button can be worn around the wrist, neck or clipped to clothing.
Triggering a panic alarm will send an SMS, email, and optionally, phone call notification to designated monitors. Whether this be a manager, group of managers or a monitoring station, is up to the business to decide. The monitor is then able to follow a response plan to verify the alert and send assistance.
With StaySafe, a GPS location is sent with the panic alarm to ensure help can be sent directly the lone worker.
StaySafe functionality includes;
- Timed sessions
- Check-in and missed check-in alerts
- Panic button
- Discreet panic
- Duress PIN
- Low signal mode
- Low battery alerts
- Man-down alerts
No signal satellite device for lone workers
StaySafe also offer a satellite device for lone workers who operate in remote areas with no mobile signal. The device offers a panic button on the side of the device, again for a quick, easy to access panic alert.
Like the app, alerts can be monitored in an online Hub and notifications sent to chosen monitors.