The survey, delivered to health and safety professionals in the UK examined usage of two-way radios across industries from Oil and Gas to Utilities and Manufacturing to Logistics.
Responses point both to a lack of updated handset safety features, and to under usage of existing features that could be putting employees at risk.
Current Systems Severely Lacking
Just 23% of those surveyed stated that their handsets incorporated the ‘Man down’ feature, while just a third (33 per cent) reported they had lone worker functionality, despite their ready availability in professional standard two-way radios.
Findings also suggest continued use of out-dated and badly designed systems is causing a variety of issues including black spots and inconsistent coverage.
A Lifeline for Lone Workers
Lone worker functionality provides extra security for workers operating in isolation, such as security guards, engineers and warehouse staff.
The setting allows supervisors to monitor staff throughout their shift, with radios programmed to ping at selected time intervals. Workers are required to press the push to talk button in response to this signal to verify their safety. If they fail to perform this task, the radio will move into alert status and trigger an alarm to control.
The survey found that in Oil and Gas, Construction and Manufacturing – industries where you will find some of the most hazardous working environments, just 10% of the workforce has access to Lone Worker technology.
Man Down for Emergencies
Man down functionality can be programmed to trigger according to a range of conditions that may indicate an emergency situation. These include excessive or a complete lack of motion as well as vertical or horizontal tilting.
In the event of a trigger, the user is alerted to a pre-alarm. This gives them the opportunity to cancel the alarm before the control centre is alerted if necessary. If the pre-alarm is not cancelled, a full emergency alarm is signalled to pre-determined controllers and groups.
Man down offers an advanced solution to quickly detect issues, potentially reducing emergency response times and helping to protect workers. The audible alarm and ambient listening or open mic function also allow response teams to understand, locate and speak with the user to improve efficiency.
GPS Under Used
Survey findings also revealed that many workers did not make regular use of GPS features. A high proportion of businesses are still not using GPS to track worker locations (61%), despite sending employees out to remote and often isolated areas. Geo-location and geo-fencing can ensure employees are operating in the correct safe zones, whilst improving the response rate if an incident were to occur.
Employers need to utilise this functionality to protect their staff and ensure them through user training that this is a critical safety tool rather than a 'Big Brother' monitoring programme. Handset operation training was flagged across the board as an area for development, especially with a transient workforce, staff members should be competent on the critical communications devices they use.
The Importance of Digital
When it comes to health and safety, digital radio offers communication clarity, improved coverage and increased call capacity, not to mention a longer battery life to easily outlast a shift.
Lone Worker and Man Down alarms can be sent across the radio system to a variety of destinations including specific radio user groups or individuals in the form of voice, text or an audible tone. Lone Worker can also be programmed to transmit an audible distress signal from the handset itself, to help emergency responders find the worker should they be trapped and unable to respond.
Bridging the Gap
It’s clear that work is required to improve access to critical communications and safeguard workers. Whilst adequate risk assessments and training will help to address inherent issues, digital radio with its advanced features and capabilities should be embraced if businesses want to unlock a new era of improved safety and productivity benefits.
For more information on health and safety features, and how you can help to protect your team by transitioning to the latest digital two-way radios, get in contact with a member of our team today. For the full survey results, you can also download our white-paper - More Than Just a Radio.
9 August 2017