How Smartphones Can Save Lives

By April 18, 2019 May 6th, 2019 Safety and Security
how smartphones help us

In the event of an emergency, businesses need a quick and reliable way to notify their people and keep them safe. Whether your workers are disconnected from a physical office or you need to keep them informed during a critical incident, smartphones can help ensure employee safety.

Workers are rarely away from their phones, which transforms an everyday device into a life-saving tool. Every business could benefit from adopting an emergency notification system, regardless of whether their employees are in the office or out in the field.

But first, let’s look at how mobile device communication can benefit employees working in isolation.

Lone Worker Safety

Some occupations demand that employees venture out on their own. Truckers, traveling salespeople, construction crews, and social workers in the field are occupations that can be spread across multiple sites and locations. These lone workers are vulnerable due to their isolation and subsequent communication hurdles.

In the event of a work-related accident, the inability to signal for help can quickly become a life or death situation. Ensuring the safety of lone workers, who often face unforeseen threats, becomes a paramount concern for employers looking to protect their people and fulfill their duty of care.

“While prevention is the ultimate goal, there must also be tools in place to provide rapid help when accidents occur.”

– Stephen Westley, Director, Global Mobile Communications

Fortunately, there are emergency notification systems available that can help businesses stay connected to lone workers in the field. These same solutions can also keep every worker (remote or not) in the loop during a critical event.

Here are just a few of the lone worker roles where such a tool could be life-saving:

  • Field technicians
  • Social workers visiting clients
  • Home health care workers
  • Construction workers
  • Delivery personnel
  • Traveling salespeople
  • Utility workers
  • Real estate agents

All of these occupations share one pain point in common: the nature of their work places them in compromised situations. They’re on the road, working long hours at remote sites, and entirely dependent on mobile devices to stay in touch.

Safety in the Palm of Their Hand

Relying on antiquated channels for emergency communications means putting lone workers at risk. Phone trees, email, and/or dispatchers are simply insufficient methods for staying connected to remote workers. The flow of communication on these channels can be slow, delaying critical messaging and help.

Put simply: A mobile device is an employee’s lifeline. Communication is essential during an emergency, so the technology powering a notification system needs to be robust, reliable, and effective.

Common dangers lone workers face:

  • Work-related injury requiring medical assistance
  • Lost in a remote location
  • Attacked by an upset client or violent assailant
  • Trapped or stuck while on the job
  • Vehicular accident
  • Heart attack, seizure, or other medical issue

The examples above are a mere sampling of the various ways lone workers could find their lives in jeopardy. Fortunately, there are affordable emergency communication solutions on the market that provide both employer and employee peace of mind.

Who Can Benefit?

While some industries are more at risk than others, no organization is immune. Because most workers are rarely without their smartphones, a mobile device can be seen as an accessible safety tool. If an incident occurs at a location without landlines, your workers need a way to immediately contact you or notify the proper authorities.

But anyone in the workforce is a candidate for a mass notification solution, whether or not they’re disconnected from a physical office. For example, promptly notifying your people during a severe weather office closure could literally save lives.

According to a University of Georgia study, more than 800 people die every year in winter-related motor vehicle deaths. Many of the victims are middle-aged workers who feel obligated to trek into work in dangerous conditions.

They feel this pressure, even if their office is closed, because they haven’t been properly notified by their employer. If their organization had made use of a mass notification system, it could have kept them off the road.

Let’s take a look at a few use cases where smartphones can serve as a life-saving tool. While the first two scenarios focus on lone workers, the third example is relevant to all employees across industries who need to stay informed during a critical incident.

Construction Work Is Dangerous Work

Construction tops the list of the most dangerous occupations, with falls being the leading cause of workplace fatalities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that out of 4,674 fatalities in the private industry in 2017, 20.7 percent were in construction.

After falls, the most common hazards were: being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught in or compressed by an object. These unfortunate work-related fatalities are referred to as “The Fatal Four.” But the nature of these jobs doesn’t always involve conventional construction (e.g., building and roadwork).

One of the most dangerous construction occupations with the highest injury rate: elevator installers and repairers. These workers are in close proximity to electrical (and improperly installed) systems that put them at risk for being crushed.

There are measures a business can take to help prevent injuries, such as installing proper scaffolding, but falls and injuries still happen. When they do, companies can leverage smartphone technology to ensure assistance is rapid.

A smartphone app (like AlertMedia’s SafeSignal) allows workers to notify law enforcement from a locked phone. This zero-button solution works on both iOS or Android. It allows your people to quickly send a distress signal to AlertMedia’s Monitoring Center, who then immediately dispatches to law enforcement.

Social Work Presents Unpredictable Threats

Another sector that stands to benefit from emergency communication technology is social work. These government employees are usually alone, visiting multiple homes every day to check in on clients and investigate reports. Their lives are in constant danger in the hostile environments they enter.

In these situations, a lone worker’s mobile device truly becomes their lifeline. Yet making a call to their office or dialing 911 isn’t always possible when a crisis is sudden and urgent.

Some systems, such as AlertMedia’s SafeSignal, offer a tether device that plugs directly into a smartphone. This way, a lone worker in a crisis situation can simply pull the tether and automatically trigger an alert that results in notification to emergency dispatchers.

When crisis strikes, people panic. For this reason, an alerting system needs to be intuitive and easy to use. Being able to instantly pull a cord is the fastest way an endangered worker can signal for help.

A quality lone worker safety app utilizes GPS enabled on the employee’s phone, directing emergency responders to their exact location. This means they never have to unlock their phone, search for the app, or push a button to call for law enforcement. They simply pull the tether and police will be on their way.

A Bank Kept Its People Safe

Rockland Trust, a full-service commercial bank headquartered in Massachusetts, oversees 1,230 employees. Communicating with them all can be, to put it lightly, a struggle.

In fact, they’ve previously faced real challenges reaching their employees during emergencies. Due to severe winter weather, such as nor’easters and violent storms, they’re no stranger to major operational disruptions.

Employees aren’t always aware of dangerous road conditions, especially if they’ve lost power. This is when an employer has a responsibility to keep their people safe. The bank decided to invest in a mass communication system as a way to quickly and effectively notify employees in the event of an office closure.

Rockland Trust found a solution with AlertMedia, a provider of emergency notification software. The two-way communication system allows the company to send alerts on every employee’s smartphone (or across any device). Their people can then respond with status updates through an easy-to-use, intuitive interface.

They put AlertMedia to the test during a recent winter storm when many of their retail branches lost power and internet connectivity. They were able to quickly and securely notify impacted workers and keep them safe. You can read more about Rockland Trust’s story here.

How Your Smartphone Can Save Lives

Federal agencies, the private sector, and higher education institutions are investing in mobile technologies to help them interact in real time with their employees and give them instant access to each other when it matters most.

AlertMedia is the leader in mass notification software. Our reliable, intuitive, two-way emergency notification system can serve as a lifeline for all workers across industries. With the push of a button or the pull of a tether, your people can stay safe, informed, and connected.

Want to learn more about how your smartphone can save lives?

 

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