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How to pick duress devices for lone workers

Issues around PCBUs – a person conducting a business or undertaking – under incoming new health and safety legislation could prove tricky for organisations employing lone workers, says Guardian Angel Security MD Petra Hakansson.

Petra says she is not a lawyer but has spent enough time around health and safety industry professionals to be able to see that such organisations need to really understand the risks their workers face.

“If these risks can’t be removed, all steps that are ‘reasonably practicable’ need to be taken to mitigate them,” she says. “Citing cost as a factor in not using technology to mitigate risks will not cut it.”

Petra says her lone worker solutions consultancy is hardware-agnostic.

She offers the following tips for organisations looking to provide GPS duress devices for lone workers:

  • GPS doesn’t work inside buildings;
  • Beware of products that go into sleep mode;
Smartphone apps are only suitable in very limited environments for a lot of reasons (including battery life);
If you’re operating in some patchy network areas, you may need a mix of satellite and cellular equipment;
You should be able to choose the monitoring centre and move when you choose to;
GPS chews battery: check that on 60-second polling, you will still get around 10 hours minimum;
Staff need to be engaged: get them to understand the limits of the technology and be comfortable using it. Without that, the best solution in the world won’t keep them safe;
  • Regular testing of equipment and worker comfort in using it is vital;
Future-proof your solution by getting confirmation it will work if the 2G network is decommissioned.

Among other services, Guardian Angel Security helps customers assess risks, source the best fit-for-purpose solution, create internal processes and train staff. It also provides monitoring, and monthly reporting and testing.

This article was first published in the November 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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