20 Mar How journey management plans protect lone workers
Lone workers face unique risks and hazards in the line of work and properly protecting them requires robust journey management planning.
Workers that operate alone – especially behind the wheel of a vehicle – face unique challenges as part of the duties that need to be included in company safety policies and mitigated for Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) compliance.
Over 1.3 million fatalities occur on the road around the world every single year and 22 countries globally have changed or amended their road safety legislation between 2015-18 alone.
This is amplified for those that are lone workers and driving as part of their job – especially in rural or remote areas – because of factors like fatigue, driver error, engine failures and numerous other road hazards.
Not only does working remotely and being mobile as part of your job expose you to road hazards, accidents and failures, it also means poor access to emergency services because of low mobile signals, availability and knowledge of where you are located.
There are three different types of lone worker that each face their own unique challenges when it comes to workplace safety. They include:
Public-facing lone workers
This includes the likes of primary healthcare administrators like doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals with home delivery of these services becoming more and more common.
It can also include those in the transport industry like delivery drivers, bus operators and those in public transport.
There are many other industries that fall into this category as well, with roles like sales representatives and area or district managers often operating remotely, on their own.
The primary risk associated with public-facing lone workers comes directly from the people they serve.
Fixed-location lone workers
These are workers that are not mobile for their job but have little or no interaction with other people as part of their duties.
This is especially prevalent in the construction and building industries, where security guards, machine operators and shift workers may often work on their own.
There are many industries where travel is a large part of the job function, especially in the resources sector including mining, oil, gas and renewables.
Lone workers are required to travel between job sites as part of their role, often in rural and remote locations and across long distances.
This brings in a raft of safety hazards, including vehicle malfunctions, accidents, animal strikes and other incidents that could leave a worker stranded – possibly injured – in a remote location.
There are many other industries that have mobile lone workers as well, including local governments (councils), utility workers, truck drivers and couriers.
Road safety risks
Driving is the most dangerous activity than any worker will undertake as part of their duties.
There is a range of hazards that can cause harm or leave a worker isolated and in need of assistance including:
- Fatigue: This is the leading cause of most road accidents and proper fatigue management processes, rest points and monitoring that these breaks are taken are essential. Departure times should also be factored in. Drivers should never be on the road at night unless absolutely necessary while departing in the late afternoon or after eating are peak fatigue times.
- Contraband: Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is against the law, a major risk factor and company policy should include testing and strong punishments.
- Vehicle maintenance: Proper servicing should be conducted on all vehicles and they should be inspected before every journey to minimise the risk of malfunction or failure.
- Distracted driving: Many journey management plans involve manually texting or calling to check-in. These are two of the major hazards of driving and can result in heavy penalties in most countries around the world.
When employees are mobile for their work, they are going to encounter different environmental hazards that need to be mitigated.
Some can be controlled through proper training, policy and reduced exposure. Others involve proper preparation and understanding of the areas the worker(s) will be travelling to.
- Lack of food and water: It may sound like common sense, but many people travelling from work will not carry adequate food or water as they will operate on the assumption it can be purchased along the way. Food, water and first aid supplies should be carried on every journey because there could be delays in regards to assistance reaching you if your vehicle is involved in an accident or malfunctions.
- Chemical hazards: While this sort of environmental hazard is usually associated with fixed workplaces, it still needs to be a consideration when travelling for work. Accidents and vehicle accidents can result in the release of toxic chemicals and proper training must be provided in managing these leaks and spills.
- Infection risks: This has been highlighted in 2020 by the global outbreak of novel Coronavirus COVID-19. Staff that are mobile could have a higher exposure to this virus and the proper training and awareness strategies need to be put in place. Workers should avoid areas where there is known infection hazards and be aware of the signs and symptoms, following proper isolation protocols to minimise the risk of further infection.
- Weather: Conditions should always be checked before embarking on a journey so workers are not exposed to known weather hazards like bushfires, floods and major storms. Unfortunately, these weather events can present themselves at unpredictable moments, so proper training on how to minimise risk must be provided for all travelling workers.
How technology can help monitor and protect lone workers in your industry
The issue with many traditional journey management plans and policies, as well as some applications, is that they involve drivers manually checking in.
There are many issues associated with this, including unsafe driving practices (operating a mobile device), the penalties associated with them and the increased risk workers face.
Manual check-in processes are not always accurate either, as a worker can SMS details that might not be accurate.
Automated journey management platforms are the best option for monitoring and protecting mobile lone workers.
How JMS can provide risk-free, compliant journey management for lone workers
Journey Management System (JMS) is an industry-leading app designed specifically for the safety of all workers that have to travel as part of their role.
It is completely hands-free, so there is no manual check-ins or texting – you can set the journey and then put the device away to focus on driving.
Checkpoints are plotted along the journey and geotagged, so if a driver does not reach these checkpoints or adhere to fatigue management stops, alerts are sent to management.
These are sent via SMS, mobile audio and email and the app uses the built-in GPS functionality of the mobile device so it works even in areas with low reception.
And the moment the journey is complete, the app automatically disengages to ensure the privacy of each employee.