Lone Worker Solutions Let's go! Home » Solutions » Lone Worker Solutions Two-Way Radio Lone Worker Radio Alarm Solutions Depending on the nature of your business and your industry, there may be occasions where workers need to operate alone. Ensuring the safety of anyone likely to be working without physical assistance is paramount. You need to know the members of your team – whether out in the field or in-house – have access to the best systems and technology available. Many of the two-way radios, PTT-over-Cellular (PoC) devices and apps DTS offer feature some kind of lone worker monitoring functionality. How lone-worker mode operates is very straight forward. When lone-worker mode is active, a silent timer will start, counting down based on a period of inactivity on the device (ie. No button presses or calls made). This is sometimes known as a “check-in” or “keep alive” timer and DTS recommend this is set to 30 minutes in the majority of cases. When the timer reaches a set point in the countdown, the device will beep or vibrate to request the user presses a button on the device to re-set the timer. By doing this, the user is effectively confirming that all is well. This period is known as “pre-alarm”, and DTS usually recommend a 2-minute pre-alarm window. If the user does not press the button within the pre-alarm window, an emergency alarm will be raised. This emergency alarm can alert a control room, other device users or external on-call personnel. With certain devices and apps, the emergency alarm can be accompanied by location information and/or by opening the microphone on the device, allowing responders to hear what’s going on. Whilst the methodology is pretty uniform, parameters for the main check-in timer and pre-alarm timer can usually be altered. On some systems, alteration is made during programming and on others it can be changed by the person initiating on the lone worker timer. Another key difference is how the lone worker feature is initiated – and who it’s initiated by. As this tends to be the most crucial factor in deployment, we’ve covered the various approaches in detail below. User-Initiated In this scenario, the device user turns the lone-worker feature on themselves on their device or app. This is the most common form of lone working on basic two-way radio systems where no central software application is present. It places the responsibility on the users themselves. As there is no software application monitoring the lone-workers, this kind of method is usually cheaper. However, the lack of central visibility and awareness has many downsides. For example, consider a scenario where a maintenance worker turns lone-worker mode on via his two-way radio whilst carrying out repairs in a factory plant room. Whilst working alone, he falls down some steps, hurts himself and breaks his radio. As the function relies on the radio sending the alarm, and the radio is broken, the maintenance worker’s colleagues may not know he’s been seriously injured for hours - or longer. This could also be the case if the accident had happened in an area without sufficient radio coverage. If a central application, such as TRBOnet, had been involved, the software would have known the user was lone working and that his radio no longer appeared online. The software would have automatically raised an alarm and notified the maintenance worker’s colleagues. The user-initiated method is also open to user error. The user may forget to switch lone-worker mode on when they need it (or forget to switch it off when they don’t need it) – leading to missed and false emergency alarms! Centralised Having the lone worker feature centralised allows operators in a Control Room or at a Help Desk to remotely switch a device’s keep alive timer on and off as required. This method also gives the operators visibility of all lone-working personnel via a user-friendly PC or smart device-based interface. Where user-initiated lone worker timers are often static and set during the programming process, centralised timers can be easily adjusted via the central software application. Multiple timers can be set-up within the application, allowing operators to select a shorter check-in timer window for personnel in higher-risk situations and longer check-in timers for those at lower risk. Whilst centralised lone worker can be considered more reliable than user-initiated, it’s not flawless. There can still be human error. Operators can forget to turn the feature on and off as needed. Adding a further process to an operator’s duties can also lead to frustration, particularly if there are dozens of users needing to come on and off of lone-worker mode several times each day. Automated Lone Worker Wherever possible, DTS recommend automating lone working processes. This is also controlled via a central software application but does not require an operator to initiate or terminate the lone worker function. As the name suggests, the lone-worker feature is automatically switched on and off, based on a number of possible pre-set circumstances and parameters. A good example is automated lone-worker based on location. In this case, a geofenced area will be pre-set in the central software application. When a user enters or exits the geofence, their device or app’s lone worker feature will be switched on or switched off as required. This method could also be achieved when a user enters range of fixed beacons inside a building. Another automated parameter is time of day. At a set point during a day, a radio’s lone worker function will automatically be activated. This initiation can also be altered based on which day of the week it is, or to take account of public holidays. As human error has been removed from the equation, workers can go about their roles with peace of mind. Operators are not having to remember to switch the function on and off centrally. With these benefits in mind it’s worth being aware that solutions of this nature can be more costly, particularly if beacons are utilised to cover internal areas. But, in our experience, the cost is often negligible against the safety gains you achieve.