The introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) has meant that devices and machinery can now be connected to apps that are accessible from smartphones, tablets and computers at all times. IoT technology can be used to monitor a variety of elements, from machinery malfunction to air quality levels, which can be configured to trigger alerts for specific workplace parameters – not just to deliver efficiencies, but also improved safety levels.
This alerting also extends beyond machinery and process monitoring. Lone worker functionality can also monitor whether an employee has checked in regularly at certain intervals or whether a tilt sensor has picked up that a worker has been horizontal for a certain amount of time, indicating they may have had an accident or fallen unconscious.
The common integration of lone worker functionality with communication devices can help to transform safety and productivity levels for an organisation. Consequently, users are typically using these devices frequently throughout their working day to contact colleagues around the same site. Yet, as safety incidents are thankfully rare within organisations, workers may be using the communication element constantly, but the lone worker alarm isn’t used nearly as often.
Users cite that integrated lone worker alarm and communication technology provides them peace of mind and confidence when conducting their professional duties as they feel assured that in the event of an incident, the alert will be raised to summon help as quickly as possible. But if in practice the functionality is used infrequently, can you be 100% confident that the information required will get to the response team so they can follow up the alarm quickly and safely?
Moreover, is the workforce familiar enough with the processes involved to ensure the alarm acknowledgement and response works smoothly each time? This is why regular testing of the solution and the processes involved is essential. No emergency incident can ever be planned, but you need to be able to rely on the information flowing quickly and uninterrupted to the right personnel and that they fully understand the response steps so that when an incident does occur, there is no hesitation and it can be resolved without issue.
This is not to say that regular testing should involve a lengthy process that distracts from a worker’s role. Instead, a weekly test for the first six months of the solution being in place will allow the team to become more familiar with the devices and processes involved. Frequent testing thereafter can continue to provide reassurance to the workforce. Even a quick daily alarm check when an employee starts their shift can be enough to ensure the device is working and instil confidence in the user.
Combined with a detailed audit trail and report that demonstrates how the organisation is conforming to standards, regular testing will not only reassure workers in terms of their safety, but also ensure the organisation is compliant with regulations and its responsibilities as an employer. With that in mind, businesses should review how often they are implementing device testing and consider whether a weekly test, or even at each shift change, should be conducted as part of the workers’ routine.
So, how often are you testing your safety devices?