Employers in Britain are failing to take advantage of the technology available to protect employees.
Many companies make no provision for safety-critical communications
A recent study undertaken by Hytera and Health and Safety at Work magazine claims that,
1-in-5 businesses admit to not having safety-critical communications at all. Of those, 95% work in potentially hazardous conditions.
Many companies are using a less than ideal solution
Nearly 82% of organisations responding to the survey carried out on behalf of Hytera and Health & Safety magazine stated that their organisation uses mobile phones as a primary communication system in the field due to a lack of confidence in other communication technologies. But many acknowledged this wasn’t a solution best suited to ensuring worker safety – unreliable mobile coverage is an issue, and respondents voiced concerns that mobile phones acted as a potential distraction for workers and represented an unnecessary additional cost burden to the business.
Businesses seem unaware of the technology available
It appears that businesses are reliant on mobile phones because they either do not have appropriate functionality within their existing two-way radios, or don’t realise the advantages that two-way radio systems offer over smartphones.
Coverage is the obvious concern for businesses relying on mobile phones for safety critical communications, particularly as in some situations the whole network may be compromised. But even where coverage exists mobile phones do not offer the instant reliable safety features prevalent in two-way radio systems.
If an employee is injured in a remote location, you need to know instantly. If they are unconscious, you need to be able to locate them quickly. A mobile phone won’t help you in this instance, nor could it stand up to the rigours of the hazardous workplace.
The business case is clear, and Health & Safety Managers need to position the benefits of the latest digital two-way radios to decision-makers to ensure they are aware that employees are at risk unless they are provided with systems that inform colleagues where they are, when they are alone, and when they are in trouble. If not, responsibility falls upon the Managing Director of the business.
Lone workers in particular benefit from two-way radio technology
Even when employees regularly work in remote locations, a high proportion of businesses are still not using the GPS tracking (61%) feature built-in to advanced digital two-way radios.
Failure to utilise GPS monitoring may simply be the result from a lack of awareness of this feature or a fear of a potential push-back from employees concerned about the monitoring of their movements.
If the later is the case organisations need provide to promote the health and safety benefits of monitoring worker safety and responding to incidents quickly in order to fulfil their corporate responsibility to protect their workers.
Geo-fencing and geo-locating for health and safety
Utilising the integrated GPS feature for external areas or Bluetooth beacons for internal areas can enable an organisation to geo-fence and geo-locate employees. For instance, an alert can be sent to colleagues when an employee unwittingly strays into a hazardous area so that the employee can be contacted and warned.
Ambient listening for workers in confrontational situations
Advanced DMR systems can offer ambient listening that make it possible for dispatchers or controllers to literally ‘listen in’ to a radio user’s microphone. This ability could prove crucial when a radio user is facing a potentially hostile member of the public, or if there has been an incident and the user is unable to access the radio. Furthermore, all these calls can be recorded and logged by the DMR system for post event reporting and evaluation.
The Hytera and Health & Safety magazine research findings clearly indicate a generic lack of confidence in existing communications across all the industry sectors surveyed,
1-in-3 businesses feel that there are weaknesses in their systems or had worries these might fail, and acknowledged the situation needs addressing quickly. Only 1-in-5 businesses claim to have ‘full confidence’ in their communication systems.
Advanced DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) systems, including Chatterbox CALM+ systems, can greatly improve an organisation’s communications capacity, capability and responsiveness by:
- Delivering the required coverage across sites.
- Providing digital audio correction that filters out background noise and improves communications clarity.
- Real-time location awareness of all users
- Lone Worker or Man Down alerts that give the user’s location
- Giving priority to certain calls or users on the system
- Integrating with mass notification systems, mobile networks and the public telephone network
- Interfacing with fire and alarm panels so that radio users can receive alerts
In summary, DMR offers a solution that not only makes it easy to handle emergency situations more efficiently and effectively – but also generates significant workforce productivity gains.
- Chatterbox CALM+ Two-way Radio Systems
- Chatterbox Thames Water case study ‘Ensuring Lone Worker Health and Safety‘.
- Hytera white paper – ‘Worker Safety – More Than Just a Radio’