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Effective communication is an essential aspect of worker safety, especially for those working in isolation, or remote areas and when working in a hazardous environment or crisis situation.

Efficient, open and reliable lines of communication between workers in the field and the central office or crisis centre can be the difference between a situation being contained or escalating, or in the most extreme circumstances, life and death.

In the past, creating these communication networks was a difficult proposition because of the unreliability of analogue radios systems, which regularly suffered from interference, lost signal or simply a lack of robust devices which could survive challenging environments.

Some organisations and businesses used the emergence of personal mobile phones as a potential solution to this problem and, in fact, more than 80% of employees are still being provided with mobile phones as a primary communication system in the field – according to research.

But mobile phones still carry many of the inefficiencies of their analogue radio predecessors in that they rely on mobile networks and signals to enable communication – which isn’t always reliable in remote areas – and, because they are predominantly built for consumers, are not robust enough to survive in hazardous and dangerous environments.

New age of digital two-way radios

One of the biggest developments in communications has been the development of digital two-way radios which, far from providing simple voice communication capability, can now be configured with an array of features to promote maximum levels of health and safety to workers at all times.

Alarm solutions like “Lone Worker” for instance, equip digital two-way radios with the ability to sound an alarm at predetermined intervals which require a worker to deactivate to indicate they are still ok.

If the worker doesn’t respond within the configured time frame a warning is sent to other radios in the network to alert other members of a team that a colleague is in danger.

Even beyond that capability, these radios can also be equipped with features that can map where the employee is and open up a communication channel allowing other members of the team to talk to the worker to ensure they are safe, or to get information about their injury.

This type of communication technology is particularly important in instances when employees work in isolation and are required to work across large and sometimes isolated areas – like National Trusts and woodland areas.

Similarly, emergency services, like the fire service or search and rescue cannot rely on the use of mobile phones for communication while analogue radios remain problematic.

Workable solutions

One example of this is the use of digital two-way radios at the Stourhead estate in Wiltshere, which comprises 10.7kmof land.

Because of the nature of this type of area it is often plagued with signal blackspots and voice interference, essentially rendering mobile phone useless.

Using two-way radios staff in the field can easily communicate with other team members but also with a central office, with the knowledge that if they become injured, safety features like Lone Worker will kick in automatically and alert to the fact that they are in difficulty.

This network of digital two-way radio provides a full and reliable communication capability which could not be achieved through analogue radios or mobile phones.


Communication has always been a hallmark of an effective health and safety strategy but in a modern environment when incidents move much quicker this need for reliable communications has become more important than ever.

Having access to the right devices, configured to the specific needs of an organisation and deployed within a completely joined up network is vital if businesses and organisations are to promote health and safety and making use of the latest and best communication technology is an essential first step.

If you want to know more about improving your business’ communication network, get in touch here