What is Lone Worker Monitoring?
Lone worker monitoring is the practice of managing employees who work alone, in isolation, or remotely, in real-time—while collecting information about their GPS locations and movements, work activity/shift details, live safety statuses, and other related data.
5 Reasons Why Employers Should Monitor Lone Workers
There are a few reasons why all organizations who employ lone workers should monitor them in real-time.
Increase Safety & Security
The primary purpose of monitoring lone workers is to ensure their safety.
With a digital monitoring system, employees can typically share their real-time locations and activities, check-in periodically, and more. If an emergency occurs, employees can activate their duress, notifying managers or authorities so that immediate assistance can be dispatched.
Improve Operations Management
By staying aware of lone workers’ activities via a remote worker monitoring system, managers can better streamline workflows, eliminate hazards, schedule activities, communicate with employees, and run detailed activity reports, thereby cutting costs.
This article details 7 ways that monitoring lone workers can improve operations management.
Comply with Government Legislation
Some governments require employers to safeguard their employees and keep in touch with them as they work alone. In some countries, keeping historical records of their safety incidents may also be a requirement.
In Australia, employers are legally required to provide safe work environments; safe ways of working; supervision, information, training, and instruction needed for safety; and to monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace.
In the United States, all employers must provide work and workplace environments that are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) code 1915.84 – Working alone states that employers must account for employees whenever they work alone, throughout each shift at regular intervals to ensure the employee’s health and safety, and at the end of each job assignment or shift (whichever occurs first).
Some countries specifically state that lone workers should be monitored. According to the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive, “Lone workers face the same hazards at work as anyone else, but there is a greater risk of these hazards causing harm as they may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong. As an employer, you should provide training, supervision, monitoring and support for lone workers.”
Deploying a lone worker monitoring system enables organizations to easily keep track of employees’ safety, while facilitating compliance with government workplace health and safety requirements.
Provide Peace of Mind
Employees who work alone in-high risk industries often report feeling more confident and safe in knowing that, if something goes wrong, their employers will find out immediately and send emergency services. On the other hand, managers can go home every day, knowing that their employees will do the same.
Jeremy Buckmaster, Community Rehabilitation Manager of Epworth HealthCare manages healthcare professionals who work alone in community settings and are at risk of experiencing antisocial and aggressive behavior from their patients – as well as other members of the public. According to this case study, Jeremy states that, “Since using SHEQSY, employees report that they feel much more secure knowing that they have SHEQSY monitoring their sessions. As a manager, I find it much easier to track the productivity and safety of my employees when working in the community.”
Increase Employee Efficiency
Though the primary reason for monitoring lone workers is improving safety, another positive side effect is increasing employee efficiency and productivity, while possibly also deterring unwanted behaviors.
Who Should Use Lone Worker Monitoring Systems
All organizations that employ lone, isolated, or remote workers should consider deploying a lone worker monitoring system.
Industries whose lone workers are particularly prone to high-risk health and safety hazards include:
- Healthcare & Hospitals: Community-based nurses, doctors, and therapists, allied health, mental health, and aged care professionals
- Energy & Utilities: Water, power, and gas service technicians, meter readers, operators
- Culture & Community: Social services, charity, advocacy groups, Non-Government Organizations
- Government: Council and city workers, parking attendants, inspectors, health services, planning
- Property & Maintenance: Valuers, agents, lenders, planners, inspectors
- Construction: Surveyors, planners, workers’
- Oil & Gas: Operators, technicians, mechanics, drivers, engineers, supervisors, well testers
- Retail: Service station attendants, shop assistants
- Mining: Production managers, geologists, electricians, engineers, inspectors, machinery operators, fitters
The above is not an exhaustive list of industries who typically employ at-risk lone, isolated, and remote workers. Presently, more employees are working remotely than ever before, and each job type and workplace presents a unique and dynamic set of hazards and risks.
Carrying out a lone worker risk assessment will help you determine if monitoring your lone workers in real-time will help mitigate the safety risks they face. (Spoiler alert: Almost all organizations find that it is.)
Addressing Employees’ Privacy Concerns with Monitoring
When employers introduce monitoring systems, employees sometimes voice concerns over their personal privacy, and rightly so.
For this reason, it is important to be clear with employees about the type of data that is being collected, as well as when, how, and why. Make sure to emphasize that the primary purpose for monitoring employees is to keep them safe. If your organization has other reasons for deploying a monitoring system, then be forthcoming with that information as well. Including all of this information in your lone worker policy is a must.
Even more important, is ensuring that the system you deploy is employee-enabled. This means that each employee has the ability to activate real-time monitoring and location sharing when they start a work activity or work shift, and to turn it off when they are finished working – giving them complete control over when their data is collected. Monitoring employees strictly during working hours eliminates most employees’ privacy concerns.
How to Monitor Lone Workers
The best way to monitor lone workers is through an automated and digital solution.
Types of Monitoring Solutions
Some organizations still rely on manual systems, such as check-in and check-out whiteboards when mobile workers arrive and leave the main work hub, such as an office, to carry out activities in the community. Systems such as these fail at keeping track of employees adequately.
Today, there are much more sophisticated and effective systems to ensure lone worker safety and efficiency. It is time for all organizations to move to digital systems.
The most versatile and cost effective system is a lone worker app that can be deployed across mobile workforces via smartphones (and, as necessary, integrated lone worker devices) and managed via a cloud-based online administrator dashboard/portal.
To learn more about the different types of lone worker solutions, explore this Lone Worker Solution Comparison Guide. It covers the many different types of solutions—from personal safety devices to smartphone apps—so you can select the most effective one for your organization.
Key Features for Lone Worker Monitoring
When deploying a lone worker monitoring system, there are a few different features you should look for.
Top Must-Have Features
- Real-time GPS location tracking
- Employee-enabled monitoring
- Duress alarm activation and SOS alerts
- Automated check-ins
Additional Important Features
- Activity countdown timers
- Overtime alerting
- Near-miss, hazard, and incident reporting
- Safety checklists and forms
- Location notes
- Emergency roll calls
- 2-way communication
- Integration with Bluetooth wearables
- Integration with handheld satellite devices
- Optional 24/7 professional monitoring and response center
- Calendar, scheduling, navigation, and reporting integrations
- Public APIs for integration with other platforms
Lone Worker Monitoring: FAQs
There are a number of ways to monitor lone workers, but the most effective is through an automated, digital lone worker safety solution. The ideal lone worker monitoring solution can be deployed across mobile workforces via smartphones and managed via a cloud-based online administrator dashboard/portal.
Generally speaking, the best lone worker monitoring solution is a lone worker smartphone app (such as SHEQSY) that feeds critical data into a dynamic, cloud-based dashboard, allowing for real-time management and emergency assistance. The ideal solution will also integrate with Bluetooth wearables, lone worker devices, and handheld satellite devices, to suit organizations’ unique risks and work environments. Some of the most important features to look for include real-time GPS location tracking, employee-enabled monitoring, duress alarm activation, automated check-ins, overtime alerts, and hazard reporting. SHEQSY is the leading lone worker safety solution that protects employees in real-time, while making it easy to manage, monitor and report on their activities from one user-friendly dashboard.
Yes, generally speaking, it is completely legal to monitor employees’ locations and activities while they are working. In fact, many organizations are legally required to do so in order to ensure their health and safety. The best way to monitor lone workers is through a lone worker safety solution, such as SHEQSY.