For any service business people are the company’s most important asset. Your officers are representing your business and your values when conducting their duties on client sites. You expect the best from your people, and in return they expect to be looked after. From designing rosters that both meet the requirements of the client and provide a reasonable work/life balance for staff, to ensuring that salaries are paid correctly, a good workforce management system is essential, especially when it comes to protection for Lone Workers.
Duty of Care, Corporate Manslaughter and the Lone Worker
Employers owe a Duty of Care to their employees to ensure that they come to no harm. In fact, everyone owes everyone else a duty of care, that their actions do not cause harm to other people.
For larger organisations there is also the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 where cases of gross breach of Duty of Care can result in liability and prosecution of directors, board members and individuals under health and safety law.
A breach in Duty of Care can be expecting officers to do a 12 hour shift when they are fatigued from doing a series of long shifts with inadequate rest periods, or it could be putting a Lone Worker in an unsafe situation.
Ensuring that Lone Workers have a safe working environment means taking extra precautions. Issues to consider with regard to Lone Worker safety include:
- Assessing risks, including the chance of encountering violence and the medical suitability of the individual to work alone. Electronic forms used for risk assessments can be provided to employees via their mobile phones under Health and Safety procedures, as can the provision of Assignment Instructions
- Training, assessing levels of experience and how best to monitor or supervise. Certifications can be automatically checked, so that only people with the correct qualifications are rostered to specific locations or tasks (for example, fire marshals)
- Adequate reliable technology to keep in touch and respond quickly to any incident
People, be they employees or contractors, have a responsibility to take care of themselves and other people they work with, and to co-operate with their employer to meet legal obligations. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf
Check calls – Keeping in Touch
Check calls where officers call in at set times to confirm their safety is the most obvious way to monitor Lone Workers, and one with which the industry is well accustomed to.
Putting procedures in place that allow direct contact between the Lone Worker and their manager can also help alleviate work-related stress. If contact is poor, employees may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned, which can affect their performance and potentially their stress levels or mental health.
SmartTask offers two lines of defence against missed check calls, dropped shifts and forgotten book on/off. An automated service that prompts staff to complete check calls and shift book on/off saves time for control room staff and managers. An escalation service works together with the prompts to contact a line manager, or other designated person if a member of staff misses a check call or shift book on/off.
Mobile Ops – Better for Customers, Better for Employees
At TMS Protection, SmartTask Mobile Patrols is used to send jobs such as locks/unlocks and alarm responses to officers, which they are able to accept via an app. They are sent detailed instructions for the job, which include site safety procedures. Staff are able to complete electronic forms once the job is complete. The Control Room has complete visibility of who is dealing with which job or incident at all times.
Managing Director Tom Devine says; “Our reputation is incredibly important to us and as a customer-focused business, our people are our biggest asset. If we can make life easier for them, they will provide a better service to our customers. SmartTask quite simply streamlines operations so that mundane tasks are quick and easy for all our staff.”
Proof of Attendance – Protecting Employees and Customers
360 Alert Security has over 700 security officers and uses SmartTask workforce management software to manage staff schedules, Proof of Attendance, check calls, reminders and escalation if check calls are missed.
A key part of the business is managing Lone Worker safety and check-calls. 360 Alert Security use SmartTask’s integrated automated phone system (IVR) so that officers can check in using their phone and a secure PIN supporting duty of care and HR compliance. When any officer fails to book on/off or complete check calls, the call reminder service prompts them via their phone. The escalation feature uses the same IVR system to automatically call their line manager, advising them of the missed event so they can initiate a welfare check. Automating the process in this way frees up control room time while assuring the welfare of the officers.
Another benefit of an automated system is that where an officer is unable to attend a site, SmartTask ensures that alternative arrangements can be made to adhere to Service Level Agreements. Having up to date digital records that detail proof of attendance ensures customer invoices are accurate, reducing errors and significantly reducing time spent on account reconciliation.
Paul Nadeem, General Manager, 360 Alert Security states: “We definitely have fewer missed calls, disputes and complaints - with SmartTask monitoring is easier and better. We have complete visibility and control and know whether an officer is on site or not. Managing shifts for 700 officers is a huge overhead, however, thanks to SmartTask we save a lot of time with the check calls escalation feature, it means we can always follow up on officers and their location to ensure their safety - the welfare side is a top priority for us.”
Managing Lone Workers benefits everyone
As these two examples demonstrate, compliance with Lone Worker and Duty of Care requirements benefits everyone, the employee (or contractor), the customer AND the business.