The Risks of Utilities Lone Working - Ian's Blog

1 Jan 2016

The utility sector in the UK delivers 5% of our GDP but employs less than 2% of the workforce. Peoplesafe is attending a Utility Sector Health & Safety Conference to join with those who provide leadership in the sector.

The staff risks are wide and varied, Peoplesafe knows that lone worker risk in the utility sectors presents particular challenges. We are offering our unique and expert insights and experience to assist organisations establish the most effective systems possible.

Some staff are customer-facing, risk assessments and systems of protecting them need to take that into account. Others may be out and about doing a job day-in, day-out, with little or no contact with customers.

From a loneworker risk perspective we categorise staff in two main ways; public facing or not. People who work in the utilities sector fall into both categories, but most are the behind-the-scenes workers out fixing and checking infrastructure and equipment. It’s a 24/7 business, whatever the weather.

The sector is about resilience, so whether its reactive or proactive programmes, checks on supply faults, to fix leaks and breakages, or do routine tests on plant and machinery. The work is varied and, often, demanding.

So the methods of protection need to be flexible and meet the demands of a tough environment. It’s no use a maintenance worker who has an unfortunate accident being given a piece of kit to raise the alarm that isn’t tough enough for the job. If someone falls over the equipment needs to withstand the impact. If a worker is out and about it needs to withstand bad weather and rain.

Lets state the obvious; there is no one size fits all way to protect lone workers. You need to work out what works for whom. Peoplesafe provide a more specialist and effective solution than generally an organisation can provide for themselves.For example; if your staff are out in rugged conditions, they need rugged protection.

That’s where equipment like the Defender smartphone comes into its own. It’s waterproof for an hour at 2m depth; where there’s no mobile signal it can act as a two-way radio, and pressing a particular button or by shaking the handset opens a two way communication with our 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre, alongside a GPS location. Our Twig device is compact and provides a man-down facility, the GPS location and a dedicated panic button. It is available with ATEX zone compatibility.But this touches another issue for utility – the lack of reliable mobile network, how would staff request support and assistance if they do not have connectivity? Peoplesafe has fully integrated a small handheld satellite system called SPOT into its portfolio. It means that if you can see the sky, you have a connection. It’s a vital lifeline in the event of an incident.

Then there are the utility workers, like meter readers, who do face the public. They need equipment that they can use to raise the alarm quickly - and discreetly. For them the Identicom is probably the best piece of kit. It looks like an ID badge, but it is much more than that. It has a discreet alarm button that links to our Alarm Receiving Centre and it also uses GPS.Whatever the system used by staff Peoplesafe is able to provide a single management portal – Vision, this allows administrators and managers to interact with consistency and ease with the usage of the lone worker systems so that compliance is achieved.

We can supply the equipment and the training, but more than that, we make sure that we work with organisations so that using the lone worker protection is part and parcel of the job. We will support you with insights on how to manage escalations in the event of an alarm and when and how the emergency services can be involved.

Peoplesafe
Website
T: 0845 0360999

457 Kingston Road
Epsom
KT19 0DB
Surrey
United Kingdom

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