Protecting employees working alone
Systems that provide protection to employees who have to work on their own offer functions that are reliably and effectively able to locate these workers and trigger alarms when they need to carry out tasks associated with a level of risk.
Why are personal security systems necessary?
Many tasks may be carried out by a single worker and, when this is the case, it‘s costeffective to have just one person handle the work. But, at the same time, employers must be able to guarantee the safety of their employees. If their safety cannot be guaranteed, a second person, for example, must accompany the first worker so that this second person may call for help in the event of an emergency. Such safety measures naturally increase costs for expensive personnel. That‘s why technical alternatives are frequently employed when possible. One such alternative is the X.com series of mobile phones by ecom instruments that features GPS and a man-down sensor.
These protection systems have been designed in particular to help protect unaccompanied workers or people working in secluded areas out of sight and hearing of colleagues. Such systems allow people to work alone without them having to be watched by a second person.
A GPS chip and man-down sensor have been built into the robust X.com 4/5/6 series of mobile phones (Version xx1). These phones will, for example, trigger a preliminary alarm in the event of the worker falling. If the worker is not able to cancel the alarm, the phone will send an SMS to the alarm-monitoring centre containing the five last stored GPS coordinates of the person in danger. It will also establish a hands-free phone connection to an individually pre-defined number. An additional microphone on the back of the phone will ensure that the two people at both ends of the line will still be able to talk if the person who has suffered the accident is not able to reach the phone because it is some distance away. An acoustic alarm will also help locate the person who has suffered the accident. Monitoring is particularly reliable when the alarm can be sent to an alarm-monitoring centre that is able to process the GPS data and display the location of the person who has suffered the accident.
Which phones and which software?
The X.com xx1 explosion-protected personal security mobile phone
The X.com 4/5/6 family is made up of mobile phones that combine robustness and – depending on the model – explosion-protection for Zones 1, 1/21, 2 and 2/22. The X.com 401, 5x1 and 6x1 phones also possess approval within the certification issued by the German Accident Prevention and Insurance Association for the personal security system.
Besides their robust design and their reliable telephone functions, the phones in the X.com range also score points with the following important features:
i Telematics HL 5.35x
When choosing an alarm-monitoring centre, special features such as those provided, for example, by the i Telematics system operated by our partner, ISA Telematics, must be considered. Unfortunately the system is not yet suitable for all countries. But your local contact partner will be happy to provide information in detail.
In conjunction with GPS/GSM telematics and personal security systems, i Telematics constitutes a highly efficient tool for end users, businesses, fleet managers, logistics operators and providers of telematics and security services. i Telematics supports telematics functions via an uncomplicated user interface. Extensive processing features and detailed user management make the software universal.
The flexibility of the i Telematics centres is demonstrated with customer-specific adaptations. For instance, factory layouts may be integrated for easier localisation.
i Telematics centres may be integrated into already existing software environments. i Telematics is perfectly suited for fulfilling tasks in the fields of telemetry and personal security.
The use of such state-of-the-art technologies as the i Telematics software and such standards as Java and XML guarantee flexible and futureproof solutions. Investments in GPS/GSM systems are well protected against technological changes.
There are clear rules in Germany regarding the assessment of the risk to people carrying out work on their own. Regulations in other countries may vary and must be observed accordingly. However, the procedure set out above still makes the complexity of risk assessments apparent.
The regulations issued by the German Accident Prevention and Insurance Association state that people may work alone using a personal security system only when the work comes with a low or elevated risk. Similar rules in other countries must also be observed.
The diagram above indicates exceptions where work associated with a critical risk level may also be carried out unaccompanied. However, an extensive risk assessment must be made for such cases on the basis of the specific national regulations. It may be generally stated that personal security systems may be employed in many situations to enable workers to carry out their tasks without it being necessary for them to be accompanied.
Usually, the relevant regulations define the conditions in which workers may work alone and what organisational measures have to be implemented to minimise the risk at their place of work. The assessment must consider a range of various factors: the risk level depending on to what extent a person may still be capable of action following an accident, the probability of an accident occurring while the unaccompanied worker is carrying out a specific task and the time it would take for assistance to arrive at the respective location.
If the risk determined for the specific case exceeds a certain value or if the risk levels are deemed to be elevated and the probability of an accident occurring has also been classed as high, then continuous supervision by a second person, a personal emergency security system or video monitoring will be required. Insofar as applicable accident-prevention regulations do not prohibit the use of personal security systems, such systems constitute the most costeffective method of ensuring communications between workers and the alarm-monitoring centre which would initiate the required measures in the event of an emergency.
Personal security systems certified by the German Accident Prevention and Insurance Association, for example, the ecom PNA-11, may be used to enable personnel to work on their own on tasks exposed to elevated levels of risk. In individual cases, employees may even be protected when working on tasks associated with critical levels of risk whereby the corresponding guidelines must be observed when making the corresponding assessments.
|Risk levels||Possible severity of injuries and capacity to act|
|Low:||Risks where the person working alone would suffer only minor injuries or impairment to health. The person maintains the capacity to act.|
|Elevated:||Risks where the person working alone may suffer considerable injury or acute impairment to health. In the event of an accident, the person‘s capacity to act will be restricted.|
|Critical:||Risks where the person working alone may suffer particularly serious injuries or acute impairments to health.
In the event of an accident the person will not have the capacity to act.
|Alarm facilities||Risk levels|
|Stationary intercom system||Low|
|Cordless phone||Low to elevated|
|Mobile phone||Low to elevated|
|Walkie-talkie||Low to elevated|
|Time-controlled monitoring calls||Low to elevated|
|Dead man‘s switch||Low to elevated|
|Continuously operated video system||Low to critical*|
|Personal security systems – PNA-11||Low to critical*|
|Personal security systems
(in accordance with Rule 139 issued by the German Accident Prevention and Insurance Association)
|Low to critical|
* Insofar as all technical and organisational requirements specified to achieve the appropriate level of protection demanded by regulations have been met.
Investment in equipment and software
The investment in equipment and the alarmmonitoring centre may vary greatly. The following questions will help assess requirements:
We would be happy to prepare an individual quote and assist you in determining the required investment in equipment and software.
The example presented below, however, intends to show how quickly the investment in personal security systems like the ecom PNA-11 could be recouped.
The initial situation
The intention is to introduce a personal security system.
The company has five employees who are being required to work in areas exposed to medium levels of risk. These levels of risk therefore demand that these workers be supervised when carrying out their work. These tasks make up 30% of the days‘ work time. The employees sometimes work in areas where explosions may occur (Zone 1).
The alarm-monitoring centre may be installed in the control room as it is always manned.
The average wage costs for the workers, including wage-related costs, total around 3,500 EUR.
A solution certified by the Accident Prevention and Insurance Association, like the one by ecom instruments, is required.
The investment in the alarm centre with up to five incorporated emergency-call units is approximately 8,000 EUR, plus hardware (see below), training and a certain degree of reorganisation.
The X.com 611-Ex mobile phone, certified for Zone 1 explosive areas, fitted with a mandown sensor and GPS would cost around 9,100 EUR for five workers (if the employees work in shifts, the X.com 611-Ex mobile phones may be used around the clock with the spare batteries and desktop charger). The investment in hardware and the workplace would total around 5,000 EUR.
The total investment for the above scenario would total around 22,100 EUR. If it is necessary to supervise the workers when they‘re carrying out work in areas exposed to risk, the costs and therefore the savings achieved using the ecom PNA-11 would total around 5,300 EUR per month. In this case, the system would have paid for itself in just five months.
Personal security systems constitute a costeffective flexible solution that complies with regulations for protecting staff who must carry out tasks on their own. If the solution is based on open standards and existing infrastructures, it may be easily integrated into existing systems, which means that investments would remain manageable.
Which in turn means that a rapid return could be expected if the system were dimensioned properly. But although commercial considerations are important, the protection of workers must always be given priority when deciding to employ personal security systems. Staff may be assured of a rapid response in the event of an accident occurring and operators may rely on high levels of protection from legal recourse when sophisticated solutions are employed.