Choosing the right lone worker monitoring system for forestry use
TrackPlot news article
As an employer you have responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of all your workers. This includes all employees, contractors and self employed staff who are working for you.
So why do lone workers need to be treated differently? Because working alone brings its' own risks. Lone workers behave differently compared to those working in teams, working unsupervised and without colleagues they inherently take more risks. Additionally, there will always be greater risks for lone workers without anyone to help them if things go wrong.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic you may now be faced with managing more lone workers than before. Here’s our quick guide to what you need to think about when considering a lone worker monitoring system:
1. Is the system designed for commercial use?
It's important to choose a commercial solution which has been designed specifically to help businesses manage risk across different types of lone workers, to respond to incidents appropriately, to meet employer health and safety regulations and to comply with the law.
2. Where do your lone workers operate?
Indoors or outdoors? In urban or rural locations? Location is so important… if your workers work daily beyond the reach of mobile phone reception then you will need a completely different solution compared to one suitable for urban workers with reliable mobile phone signal.
3. What hazards might your lone workers be exposed to?
Working outside typically carries higher risks due to the very nature of the work and the location. The location itself could be hazardous with inhospitable terrain, these environmental risks increasing the chances of slips, trips and falls for instance. In addition, the lone worker’s specific activities could be high risk including operating heavy machinery, working at height or inspecting/maintaining difficult to reach assets.
4. How do your lone workers work?
Do they operate during regular working hours (Monday – Friday 9-5) or out of hours and weekends.
D o you have different groups of workers, line managed by different managers? Consider the flexibility of the system you need.
5. Your tolerance to risk
How risk-tolerant and risk aware are your lone workers and you as their employer?
You've worked through the above considerations and identified that your outdoor lone workers are regularly working in remote regions and do not have reliable mobile phone coverage. You need to be confident that your lone workers can raise the alarm in an SOS life-threatening situation or can request assistance in a non-emergency scenario.
There are many lone worker monitoring solutions – how do I choose?
There are two types of lone worker monitoring solution – those that use communication satellites and those that use the mobile phone network. In your case you need a satellite and GPS technology based system (such as Trackplot), which do not need mobile phone reception to work.
How does a satellite-based system work?
Your lone workers will use GPS Devices to obtain an accurate position using the Global Positioning System. The Global Positioning System is a satellite based system consisting of a large constellation of satellites, many of which are visible to the user at any one time. Once the GPS Device has obtained a position this information is then transmitted to a low earth orbiting communication satellite. This in turn will relay the message via a Ground Receiving Station to the lone worker monitoring system (the Trackplot Portal).
How easy is it to use a GPS device?
The Trackplot GPS Device has a simple rugged design so it is easy to use in harsh outdoor environments. The functions on the GPS Device allow your lone workers to Check-in regularly to confirm they are safe; they have the option to Track their movements as they work, particularly useful if they are undertaking hazardous work or are moving across large areas; and to Check-out at the end of their working day.
SOS is a vital function of the Trackplot system. The SOS button on the GPS Device enables a lone worker to communicate that they are in a life threatening, emergency situation which requires urgent and immediate help. For help in a non-emergency situation, such as a broken down vehicle or flat tyre, lone workers can use the Assist button.
If your lone worker is incapacitated or unconscious the system provides alerts so that the incident can be escalated, and the appropriate action can be taken.
For convenience your lone workers can use the Trackplot Mobile app when they do have mobile phone reception.
What do I need to set up and support a lone worker monitoring system?
You need a computer and to appoint a person who will be responsible for using the lone worker monitoring system daily to regularly check all your lone workers are safe (you may wish to appoint more than one person if you have a larger number of lone workers). That's it. Trackplot is a complete solution and we provide you with everything else you need.
Working through the above considerations will help you to prepare risk assessments for your lone workers and develop your lone worker policy and procedures. These will be used if a lone worker becomes Overdue, Requests Assistance or raises an SOS.
CASE STUDY – Mark Page, forestry contractor
Trackplot has customers located across the length and breadth of the UK relying on Trackplot every day. Mark Page, a self-employed forestry contractor, has been using the Trackplot system since 2012. A large proportion of Mark's time is spent undertaking forest surveys and data acquisition in woodlands. Many of these projects are in remote areas which do not have reliable mobile phone coverage.
Mark advised “My previous system to check-in with my family and employer relied on having mobile signal. There were occasions when this system fell short as I was out of mobile coverage. The anxiety it caused both my family and myself, knowing I could not reach them, triggered the need for a more robust system to be put in place.”
He continued “The Trackplot system has given me peace of mind. It is completely reliable, especially now Trackplot have supplied me with the latest GPS tracker, which can get a signal out from under thick tree canopies. I carry it clipped on to my Hi Vis work jacket with a carabiner. I normally check-in to Trackplot when I leave my vehicle. I now tend to check-out by means of my mobile phone, once I am finished at the end of the day and back in phone coverage. The flexibility Trackplot offers to check-in and out either by GPS device, mobile phone or online means there is always a way for me to access the system and let everyone know I am safe.”
See the full case study: https://trackplot.com/case-studies/forestry-contractors/
Trackplot is a lone worker monitoring solution designed for people who work alone outdoors, especially those working in isolated, remote or hazardous locations. Our purpose is to bring peace of mind, ensuring lone workers come home safe and well each day.