Is It Ok To Monitor Lone Workers?

‘Is it okay to monitor lone workers’ is often a question that is debated amongst employers and employees alike, with varying degrees of acceptance.

It is true to say, there has been a lot in the press recently about mass surveillance and the use of our private data, and whilst some people are okay with this, others find it an infringement on their privacy and would even go as far as to say a breach of human rights.

Indeed, only last year we saw the introduction of more stringent GDPR laws in an attempt to preserve people’s privacy from unscrupulous organisations who resort to sending unsolicited emails or use mass telephone number databases to try and target ‘customers.

And as reported in the New York Times recently, China have been widely criticised for using AI to monitor citizens through facial recognition, which actually appears to have resulted in racial profiling, bringing in to question the ethics behind surveillance of any kind.

But what about monitoring people for their own safety? When people work alone, monitoring their whereabouts is often a very necessary procedure to follow, and as employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees, including lone workers, it’s essential that the ethics behind people monitoring are explored.

This is why in this week’s blog, First2HelpYou ask the question, is it okay to monitor lone workers?

Want to join in the debate? Read on.

image shows a man looking at his laptop to monitor lone workers

Loneworking the Facts

So, first of all let’s look at some data and facts around lone working.

It is estimated that on a daily basis there are approximately seven million people who work alone in the U.K. This could be anybody from somebody working from home, a person working in the retail sector, a lorry driver, or even people who you don’t consider to be ‘lone workers’ such as sales reps or employees in the public sector, such as NHS staff and council workers will spend some, if not all, of their day working alone.

And according to a British Crime Survey, out of these people who are working alone, 150 people per day will either be physically or verbally attacked which can have devastating consequences.

Now as we have already mentioned, employers have a legal statutory requirement to protect lone workers which you can read more about here from the HSE, and at the very minimum, Organisations should be carrying out risk assessments for Loneworking and anybody who falls in to that category.

Once you have carried out these risk assessments, it is mandatory to put safety at the heart of the issue, and ensure lone workers are protected as they go about their daily routine.

How to Protect Lone Workers?

There are several, easy to appoint, solutions to this dilemma and here at First2HelpYou we can guide you through all the available options starting with a consultation to address the needs of the individual whilst also considering the requirements of the business.

This can be anything from a standard mobile phone solution to the Loneworking Kit Device to helping you setting up an escalation contact list or using the Loneworking App to support your employees.

Which brings us on to the supervision of employees working alone, and the ethics connected with ‘is it okay to monitor lone workers’?

Surveillance V Safety

Now you may for example, have a late-night retail store, either an off license for example or a garage forecourt, which are often targets for crime. This might involve petty theft such as shoplifting or in the worst cases, can result in a serious criminal incident with staff being subjected to a violent attack.

Having CCTV cameras in place is obviously going to be useful in bringing the perpetrators to justice and can provide valuable evidence in the courts to get a conviction, however, how effective are CCTV cameras in actually protecting staff whilst the incident is happening and from the employee perspective, would you like to feel like your every move was being watched?

Compare this to a non-surveillance, Loneworking device which is non-intrusive on the employee and can connect straight to an escalation contact if the employee felt in danger and you can start to question the ethics behind monitoring employees.

Now nobody is saying ditch the cameras. The answer in this situation could possibly be to have them situated in a position where they can monitor who enters the store, but are not focused on the employee’s main area of work, and the introduction of a Kit Device would offer a greater degree of security to the person working, without them feeling like they were under constant surveillance.

Similarly, First2HelpYou offer a 24-Hour call centre alarm system for Lone Workers who are going in to people’s homes day or night, (for example care-workers), where a Unique Reference Number, (URN), is applied; and if a situation is escalated due to a member of staff feeling threatened our expert team can immediately contact 999 and alert the emergency services.

This method is much quicker than the Loneworker doing this themselves as the police recognise URNs on their system, so will already hold detailed information about the person in danger; furthermore, it is not always possible for an employee to call 999 for fear of making the crisis worse, so to contact an escalation team is often a more measured approach in difficult circumstances.

Now of course, this method of Lone Worker protection has to involve some level of employee monitoring, but the key here is again, it’s not intrusive and is designed to make employees feel safe, rather than they are being monitored for performance purposes.

image shows a monitoring control room

Contact Us

So, if you feel like you want to step up your protection levels for staff who work alone without having to worry about the ethical dilemma of monitoring your employees then you can contact us here, or call us TODAY on 0333 772 9401 to discuss your options and take the worry out of your hands.

All of First2HelpYou products meet the Loneworking Protection industry standards of BS8484 and we are so confident that you will be thoroughly satisfied with the exceptional service levels we offer a 30-Day Trial, completely free of charge.

Contact First2HelpYou, the Loneworking industry experts today to find out more!