Having a lone worker safety and communications plan outline in place is critical for any agency that has staff in the field. This includes those that work from home part or full time.
Your office based employees may have the benefit of a secure facility. Your lone workers face a completely different set of personal safety and security issue.
I’ve invited Kevin Dogen, Executive Director of SafeTeam, a technology leader in this space, to a write a guest Blog that illustrates the importance of including an Emergency Notification System in any Safety and Communications plan you devise.
A lone worker in the field (we’ll call him Jim) is confronted with a situation that compromises his safety. He’s in a difficult spot and doesn’t have time to call for help. Since his company’s safety procedures are based on human communication, his supervisors have no idea he’s in trouble and won’t for some time… while Jim’s need for help is immediate.
With an Emergency Notification System in place to alert Jim’s supervisors, his lone worker safety scenario is quite different:
It starts at 9:00 AM with Jim “Checking In” to the system via cell phone upon arrival at his destination. It’s a 2 hour visit. The system prompts him to provide details on where he is, what client he’s visiting, and the color and make of his vehicle. Once completed, it stands by for him to call no later than 11:00 AM to “Check-Out”.
When 11:00 AM comes and he hasn’t “Checked-out”, the system calls his cell phone but he doesn’t pick up. The system waits 5 minutes and calls again. Again he doesn’t answer. This raises a potential red flag where the system triggers as escalation procedure by contacting 3 designated contacts.
They’re able to listen to Jim’s Check-In call so they know his location. One of the designated contacts places a call to the client. They don’t answer. He next calls the police, providing the address. In an instant, the response time has been dramatically reduced in what might be a serious situation.
While the odds of this happening are slim, you need only do a quick Google search to see how often it does occur. The question then is whether to presume that it won’t happen to your people or be pro-actively cautious by including an ENS into your Safety and Communication Plans.
In some ways, it’s like an insurance policy and without it, not only are your employees exposed, your company is as well, based on the financial implications that come into play. The National Center for Victims of Crime notes that the average cost for a single episode of violence in the workplace is $250,000 in lost time, medical expenses & legal costs.
Having an ENS in place not only reduces your company’s legal exposure, it also sends a strong message to your field workers that their safety is your primary concern.
In the end it’s a numbers game. You can consider that because you’ve never had an incident in the field, the probability is too small to be concerned. On the flipside, you might count your blessings, recognize that the risk is ever-present and take your Safety and Communication Plans to the next level.
To see Safe Team’s Emergency Notification System in action click here
Kevin’s Contact information appears below
Social Worker Personal Safety Training (6 Hours NASW Continuing Education Units)