Considering deploying personal safety devices to protect your organization's lone and remote workers? This guide details everything you need to know to get started.
Published 13 Jan 2023
A personal safety device is any portable object or wearable item that can be used to improve the safety of lone workers. Personal safety devices for lone workers can include a range of features, such as panic alarms, check-in systems, GPS tracking, and communication tools. They are designed to provide employees with an extra level of security when working alone, in isolation, or remote locations. Personal safety devices can help organizations manage, monitor, and report on employees' locations, activities, and well-being in real-time.
There are three main types of personal safety devices to consider for lone workers:
Lone worker safety apps (such as SHEQSY by SafetyCulture) are the most versatile and effective safety solutions. Typically, lone worker safety apps include features such as panic alarms, automated/periodic check-ins, overtime alerts, and GPS monitoring. Many lone worker safety apps can also integrate with Bluetooth and satellite devices to create a fully customizable solution while feeding critical real-time safety and activity data into one unified management dashboard. Lone worker safety apps are a cost-effective solution since they can be deployed across employees’ existing smartphones.
Bluetooth safety devices, such as panic buttons and personal alarms (that can be worn as wristwatches and lanyards), enable lone workers to quickly and discreetly activate their duress, letting their emergency contact(s) know that they need assistance. Some devices also enable employees to check in and extend their activity timers.
Bluetooth devices are best used in conjunction with an overarching lone worker safety solution. That way, managers can view data such as employee location, activity type, and more within their management dashboard. Bluetooth devices are typically inexpensive.
Handheld satellite devices are primarily deployed across lone-working teams based in remote locations outside of mobile phone coverage. Via these devices, lone workers can typically activate panic alarms, share location, and sometimes send 1:1 messages. Handheld satellite devices are the most expensive personal security devices, and they also work best when integrated with a comprehensive lone worker system.
Comprehensive personal safety solutions can offer various benefits for both employers and employees.
Of course, personal safety devices can increase employee safety—and everyone deserves to feel safe at work.
According to Safe Work Australia, “Working alone or remotely can increase the health and safety risks of any job.”
Deploying personal safety devices can help mitigate common lone worker risks, such as “violence in the workplace, stress, and mental health or well-being, a person’s medical suitability to work alone, [and] the workplace itself,” by enabling employees to quickly and easily activate their duress and receive assistance in dangerous situations.
More and more, governments worldwide are enacting laws and recommendations that require organizations to safeguard lone workers.
For example, the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive‘s guide, Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone, recommends implementing a lone worker solution for monitoring and staying connected with lone workers. Their recommended solutions include:
In addition, in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) code 1915.84 – Working alone states, “whenever an employee is working alone, such as in a confined space or isolated location, the employer shall account for each employee throughout each workshift at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment to ensure the employee’s safety and health; and at the end of the job assignment or at the end of the workshift, whichever occurs first.”
Deploying personal safety products across lone-working teams can help organizations comply with legal requirements and reduce exposure.
The best personal safety devices and systems make lone worker safety and management easy.
A system that enables managers to monitor, manage, and report on lone workers’ activities and well-being in real time—via one central, cloud-based, and user-friendly dashboard—is ideal.
For example—as employees use their smartphone apps and/or integrated Bluetooth and satellite devices—from the SHEQSY Dashboard, managers can:
A lone worker is an individual who works alone, in isolation, or a remote location, typically without supervision or backup support.
Examples of employees who may require personal safety devices include:
On the most basic level, all personal safety devices must have these two features:
Generally speaking, all of the above safety device types offer these features.
Beyond panic alarms and GPS, there are a number of other useful safety and management features to look out for:
All of these innovative safety and management features can be found within comprehensive lone worker safety apps such as SHEQSY.
Deploying personal safety devices across lone-working teams sounds great in theory. But what about in practice?
Here’s what health and safety managers have to say about the leading lone worker safety app, SHEQSY, which is primarily deployed as a smartphone app (for iOS & Android) and integrates with various Bluetooth and satellite devices to offer a fully customizable safety solution.
When you think of personal protection devices, pepper spray, stun guns, and tasers may come to mind. These devices are easy to carry and, therefore, are great personal protection devices to bring with you when you are alone, whether at work or not.
Carrying a personal security alarm system is a great option too. A personal alarm can come in the form of a panic button app, a lone worker alarm (specifically designed for employees who work alone), an SOS button, or a Bluetooth panic button, among others.
Safety devices fall into two different categories: traditional devices and digital devices. Each type has its own use case.
Traditional safety devices (which are typically used for self-defense against attackers) include instruments such as pepper spray, stun guns, tasers, strobe lights, bright lights, and sound alarms.
On the other hand, digital safety devices (which are often used in the workplace to keep solo employees safe) include tools, such as smartphone safety apps, panic buttons, and even handheld satellite devices. They typically keep track of the user’s GPS location, and can alert authorities, emergency contacts, or workplace managers (via automated text message, calling, email, and more) in the event of an emergency. Some digital solutions also have automated check-in prompts and overtime alerting features.
No personal safety alarm is guaranteed to work 100% of the time. However, personal safety alarms can help users be better prepared for unexpected emergencies and dangerous situations, call for help when necessary, and lower the users’ risk of experiencing serious, potentially life-threatening incidents. Carrying a personal safety alarm can also help users feel safe and confident, instilling a sense of peace of mind. Using a personal safety alarm is a simple precaution that can help safeguard against various situations.
The best personal safety alarm for lone workers is SHEQSY. SHEQSY is a comprehensive lone worker safety solution that protects employees with real-time GPS location tracking, quick and discreet panic alarms, overtime alerts, automated check-ins, safety forms and checklists, and more.
SHEQSY can be deployed via the SHEQSY lone worker app, as well as integrated Bluetooth wearables and handheld satellite devices. Via the SHEQSY Dashboard, managers can monitor, manage, and report on lone workers’ activities in realtime. SHEQSY’s 24/7 security monitoring center can escalate duress events according to your organization’s safety policies and procedures, or your organization can manage duress events in-house via automated calls, text messages, and email notifications.
With SHEQSY, your organization can move from reactive to proactive lone worker safety. Whether your workers are nurses carrying out home visits, utility workers servicing dangerous or remote areas, or land surveyors completing site inspections, SHEQSY makes it easy to protect them in real time.
SHEQSY's lone worker app (for iOS & Android) is easy to use, providing lone workers with easy and effective ways to raise duress alarms, check in periodically, report hazards, share location notes, and more. All of this critical lone worker data automatically feeds into SHEQSY's dynamic, cloud-based management dashboard, so that team leaders can easily monitor, manage, and report on lone worker activities.
Protect employees. Save time. Be compliant. SHEQSY's comprehensive solution makes lone worker safety easy.
Try SHEQSY for free for 30 days. Unlimited users. No obligations. No credit card required.
Maddy is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. She has worked as a digital marketer and copywriter in the risk management industry for more than a decade. When she’s not writing for SafetyCulture, Maddy runs a popular travel and food blog and enjoys snowboarding, practicing yoga, hiking, and spending time exploring outdoors.
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