Lone Worker Solutions Protect Frontline Workers From Violent Encounters On The Job
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, nearly 700,000 incidents of workplace violence occurred between 2017 to 2018 in the UK alone. Of this, roughly 365,000 were violence-related threats whilst 330,000 were physical assaults. With violence accounting for 9% of workplace fatalities in the US during 2018, it is clear firms need to recognise and put in place a strategy to protect workers from violence in the field.
No industry is exempt from the risk of workplace violence. Those in protective services, healthcare and social worker roles are particularly vulnerable, however employees from retail through to telecoms and utilities may all encounter violence whilst fulfilling their duties. Strikingly, 54% of workplace violence offenders were strangers or members of the public not involved in the work task at hand. So what can be done to protect workers from this often unpredictable risk?
Firstly, firms can include training on how to handle challenging scenarios. Using EHS training solutions such as those provided by HSI, KPA and INX software, firms have the choice to use off-the-shelf solutions or configure their own training content to provide guidance on how frontline workers can handle challenging environments and de-escalate tension. Training can inform employees on best practices and procedures that mitigate the risk of harm (see Verdantix Reducing Workplace Injuries With Digital Health & Safety Training Tools (Webinar)).
Next, organizations should utilize resources that strengthen communication channels between frontline workers and their colleagues, managers and emergency responders. In the event of an emergency, SOS alert functionality present on wearables or mobile devices could make the difference from a threat escalating into an assault. Wearables like those provided by Lone Worker Solutions, Orbis and Send For Help Group can notify emergency responders when employees are made to feel unsafe with a click of a button. A hospital in upstate New York, for example, equipped emergency department staff with a wearable communication badge to summon public safety officers during a violent altercation with a hospital patient; this reduced the average security response time from 3.2 minutes to 1.02 minutes.
Additionally, technologies should be adopted that allow firms to monitor the physical wellbeing of lone workers in real-time (see Verdantix Buyer’s Guide: Lone Worker Solutions). When an individual is exposed to an incident, sometimes the severity of the outcome means they cannot manually report an issue themselves. Wearables that monitor motion or vital signs can be useful for assessing the need for emergency medical support without workers needing to input data (see Verdantix Strategic Focus: Aligning Vital Sign Monitoring Wearables With Corporate EHS Use Cases). The real-time transfer of passive data can help firms identify individuals who are at risk, without the need for self-reporting.
Workplace violence is unpredictable in nature and hard to mitigate due the complexity of human behaviour. However, incidents can often be diffused or mitigated if help was at hand. Firms can provide support through the use of training and technologies that facilitate emergency communications and monitor employee wellbeing. With violence impacting so many frontline workers around the globe, it is apparent more needs to be done to support employees in diffusing potentially dangerous situations.