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Lone Worker Device Selection Based On BS 8484

Connexion2 : 02 September, 2010  (Special Report)
Anne de Vere of Connexion2 provides an overview of the BS 8484 Code of Practice and explains its significance in providing duty of care to vulnerable employees when selecting a lone worker protection device
Lone Worker Device Selection Based On BS 8484
As the number of employees working alone during all or part of their working time increases, it is critical that employers meet their legal duty of care by ensuring their lone workers are not put at any additional risk than other employees.

Equipping staff with lone worker technology is part of the solution. However, as the array of personal safety alarm providers continues to grow, it is important to make an informed decision when looking to implement lone worker safety technology. Fortunately, the BS 8484 Code of Practice for the provision of lone worker device (LWD) services has set a benchmark against which all LWD services can and should be measured. Compliance with BS 8484 (specifically through audit) ensures a lone worker device service is fit for purpose. It's worth noting that only lone worker solutions compliant against the standard are able to guarantee an escalation to Police level should it be required.

Why is BS 8484 Important?

The growing volume of employees working alone has acted as a catalyst in recent years to the growth of the personal safety alarm provider sector and the range of LWDs. Each provider makes its own case as to why their LWD should be considered for implementation ranging from accurate location of lone workers, to the quick escalation of incidents to responders. However, there needs to be a clear standard against which these claims are measured. The standard helps the employer make the right decision and choose the most appropriate lone worker device and supplier to ensure best protection for their lone workers.

BS 8484 is the result of the security industry's insistence that best practice is promoted and a benchmark put in place. It sets a standard for suppliers of lone worker device services to achieve and against which they can be measured. In short, compliance with this Code of Practice promotes effective use of the resource, maintains a good level of support for lone workers and minimises the risk of false alarms being received and requiring a response.

BS 8484 sets the standard for all aspects of lone worker device supply (including):

* The Supplier (BS 8484, Section 4): Structure, Finance, Insurance and Premises
* Lone worker device (BS 8484, Section 5): Communications Network, LWD functionality and LWD user training
* Lone worker device (BS 8484, Section 5): Service, Operator Training, Operating Procedures and Response Agreements

ACPO have published their policy on how and when they will respond to lone worker alarms. In short, much of their focus is on an ARC monitoring function that is credible enough to filter false alarms and provide 'fit for purpose' lone worker devices (LWD) which work well for the lone worker. Their requirement is that ARC meets BS 5979 Cat II and the device meets the requirements of BS 8484. The policy also confirms that in order to get a Police response, the ARC in question must hold Unique Reference Numbers (URNs) for the appropriate Police force(s) needed to respond.

So, any employer looking to deploy a credible lone worker solution, ensuring a Police response, needs to look for a supplier who uses a credible ARC and compliant devices.

Employers need to ensure that they are getting a credible solution from a trustworthy supplier. The way to do this is simple - ask any supplier for a copy of their certificated approval against BS 8484. This should show that they have been audited against sections 4, 5 and 6 of the standard.

Unlike many other LWD suppliers, Connexion2 doesn't just comply with BS 8484 from a functional perspective; the company has been audited and fully approved against all three sections (4, 5 and 6) the first device vendor to do so after the standard was released. This means that any Lone Worker solution provided through Connexion2 is guaranteed a Police response should it be required, in line with the policy of ACPO.

For numerous and various reasons, the pool of lone working employees is increasing and together with their employers they face diverse and challenging working environments. It is the duty of an employer and employee to take all reasonable steps to ensure they remain safe. Choosing a lone worker device supplier, who is compliant with BS 8484, is the first crucial step to identifying a device that will enable and empower the employee. Not only does it enable an employee to proactively take a greater share of responsibility for their own safety, security and well being in lone working situations but it also demonstrates that the employer is working towards meeting its legal duty of care.

Employers should use BS 8484 as a minimum benchmark against which to judge a potential supplier, looking for full audit against the whole standard. Without it, there is a heavy risk that a Police response, in the event of an incident, might not be guaranteed. In short - full BS 8484 compliance ensures an effective solution is deployed across the workforce and guarantees a Police response when required.

Based around Connexion2's Identicom LWD, a SoloProtect Solution is a fully inclusive managed service comprising:

* Identicom LWD or Identicom mobile
* 24/7 manned monitoring (ARC) to BS 5979 Catt II
* SIM card and GSM network usage
* Full user training
* Support package

Disguised as an ordinary identity card holder, Identicom provides a discreet means of alerting the 24-hour Alarm Receiving Centre to your lone working situation. The monitoring centre will listen to and record what is said during an incident, whether physical assault or verbal abuse. This ensures proportionate and immediate action, including a Police response where appropriate. Recordings are admissible as evidence in court.

Variants of the Identicom LWD include:

* The i-Series with the options of mandown and/or GPS functionality
* The t-Series Identicom offers lone workers and their manager's greater location knowledge in order to reduce risks, also with mandown functionality option
* Identicom mobile - an application download for a Blackberry smartphone providing much of the functionality of the Identicom LWD.
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