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Why is it important to respond quickly to site alarms?

Written by ANT Telecom | 24 Feb 2017

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It’s an accepted reality that accidents can and will always happen. Sometimes, there is just no amount of planning or strategising that can override this basic fact. When accidents do occur, regardless of our profession, we all hope that their effects will be minimal and not far-reaching. However, sometimes this is simply not the case and accidents can have vast repercussions. This is particularly true in industries such as manufacturing and production where incidences can affect output, derail production and even raise significant safety concerns. One crucial defence against this is to implement a robust site alarm system that recognises anomalies and possesses the functionality to notify and then register whether necessary tasks have been performed. As effective as this strategy is, its success is contingent on messages being picked up and responded to accordingly. Here we look at why this is so essential.

  • Life or death

  Arguably the most resounding reason to respond quickly to site alarms is that it can mean the difference between life or death. This might sound hyperbolic, but it’s a sobering side-effect of inaction that cannot be ignored. Of course, grievous workplace incidences can occur anywhere, but they are significantly more likely to take place in scenarios where there are lone workers.

Lone workers are those individuals who regularly work for lengthy periods of time without direct supervision from either management or their peers. They range from on-site construction workers, engineers and manufacturing staff to hospital workers, council operatives and a whole gamut in-between. It is particularly important to safeguard these members of staff as they lack the recourse to notify others when they are in danger. Worryingly, it was recently estimated that there are nearly 6.8 million lone workers in the UK alone (and this figure is likely to be a conservative estimate due to the amount of under-reporting and ambiguity about what constitutes lone working.)

Employing a comprehensive alarm system can afford lone workers peace of mind and tangible protection as it ensures (should they fall prey to a violent attack, medical complication or any other potential fatality) that the occurrence is registered and an escalation process begins. Lone worker alarms are particularly versatile and can take the form of panic alarms (in which a discreet button is used to trigger an alert when an emergency takes place) to man-down alerts which intuitively generate an alarm using horizontal no-motion sensors if the user is rendered unconscious.

When an incident as momentous as fatal injury occurs, the reliability of such a device is a great benefit as it ensures that the matter is flagged up and urgent notifications are sent to colleagues. Nevertheless, ample warning must be paired with human efficiency, as it is vital that members of staff are accustomed to these alerts and have received adequate training with regards to their role in handling emergency circumstances.


  • Avoiding unplanned downtime

Downtime is used to refer to the time during which a machine or piece of equipment is out of use. Naturally, this can cause sizeable problems for the productivity of a business as ample time and resources are squandered. According to the online magazine, Food Manufacture UK, downtime can see a production company haemorrhage hundreds of thousands of pounds per day. When you factor in a high volume of products on a production line, the ramifications of this can be huge in terms of wastage and cost.

 However, adopting an integrated alarm system can be vital in circumventing this nightmare scenario. This is because an intelligent alarm can alert attention to the fact that a machine is malfunctioning and hampering production.  This is done through the dispatch of an automated message that is sent out to designated members of staff. The message will typically consist of succinct and pertinent information about the equipment in question, the identity of who raised the alarm and the location of the event, thus providing staff members with a detailed record of the situation unfolding.

 As discussed, this information can be invaluable when it comes to averting catastrophic losses. However, it remains of paramount importance that staff are equipped to respond to this event with both a sense of urgency and thoughtfulness. Establishing a detailed protocol of how to react appropriately to such alarms is key to ensuring that wastage is avoided and operational efficiency is restored.


  • It’s vitally important for the functionality of your business

 It’s important to note that one of the reasons it is so important to ensure that response times are as agile as possible is because of the holistic nature of so many operations. Think of it as a big cog whirring. Now, it might seem that the cog is entirely self-sufficient but, the cog is comprised of numerous smaller cogs that hold it all together. This might seem like a strange analogy but this is how almost all businesses work. This is especially true in industries that yield vast quantities of products. For instance, a recent study published in The Telegraph (and conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) found that the UK accounted for the production of 1.6 million car models in 2016 alone. We can only imagine the logistics that this entails but it undoubtedly must require every facet making their contribution to the overall output.

What does this have to do with site alarms, you ask? A bespoke alarm system operates on exactly this principle. Each stage, from the initial trigger to the dispatch of the alarm must be followed through. The final cog in this well-oiled operation is the personnel that need to deal with the alarms to ensure any incident is dealt with swiftly to ensure minimal impact on production.

It is all well and good to purchase an alarm system, but no matter how sophisticated it is, it will only have minimal success if those it intends to reach are unfamiliar with emergency procedure. This is why, before adopting a critical alarm system, it is imperative that companies have a detailed idea in mind of who their appropriate personnel are and what they want the alarm in question to do.

Overall, it is important to respond quickly to site alarms because they constitute a valuable defence against fatal and financial catastrophe. An integrated alarm system can help flag machine errors, distributing them to the team responsible for fixing them, and contribute to the overall operational efficiency of a business. They can help ensure that deadlines are met, downtime significantly reduced and wastage averted; not to mention that lives are potentially saved. However, as intuitive and specialised as these devices are, they only prosper when sent to the right personnel who have been instructed to respond accordingly. Therefore, on-site alarms must be fully woven into the fabric of an organisation in order to become truly successful. This requires a concerted effort and commitment on the part of all necessary team members. It also requires continual monitoring and assessment to ensure that response times are as optimised as possible. This can only happen however, when automated alerts meet human responsiveness, not only in terms of action, but also in terms of receptiveness. Achieving this delicate balance could mean the difference between preventing a crisis and expending precious time and resources dealing with its aftermath.

Webinar: To find out how your team could respond faster to site alarms or emergencies on your site, click here to join our next webinar


Topics: Lone Workers, Critical Alarm Management

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