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Automated employee safety monitoring

January 1, 2013

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What are the benefits of automated employee safety monitoring versus the traditional methods of monitoring employee safety?


Responding is Brendon Cook, CTO and co-founder of Blackline GPS, Calgary, Alberta.

Although many organizations have implemented some kind of safety monitoring system for their employees and staff (depending on risk assessment and employee roles), the vast majority of systems in use today are somewhat antiquated. These systems fail to leverage advances in technology to discover and respond to an incident proactively and – as a byproduct – waste time, waste money and typically result in the accidental discovery that an incident has occurred. Automated safety monitoring is emerging as a new best practice – a process that uses person-worn devices to convey a worker’s safety status in real time to others to provide instant and active safety awareness. The benefits of such a system are clear: reduced yearly expenses, reduced wasted time, improved emergency response times, reduced insurance costs, and improved outcomes for individuals through a prompt, location-based response.

Greater efficiencies are achieved in safety monitoring by automating the time-intensive processes that traditionally have been performed as part of a monitoring plan. Functions such as phone-in check-ins and emergency phone calls are being replaced with instant, GPS-enabled alerting, eliminating a significant amount of wasted time per day, as well as reducing the lead time between an emergency notification and an appropriate response. Safety alerts and check-ins can be delivered through instant notification via SMS text message and email to monitoring personnel, either within the organization or externally. Additionally, a central monitoring station can be integrated into monitoring workflows through direct server-to-server connections, centralizing monitoring responsibility with a 24/7-staffed facility.

Safety monitoring solutions automatically transmit a safety alert when an employee becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to request help manually using the monitoring device. Such automation often comes in two forms:

  • Fall detection that determines when an employee has fallen using accelerometers and gyroscopes.
  • Man-down alerting that causes the device to automatically trigger an alarm when a total lack of motion is detected for a configurable period of time. Automation ensures any injured employee will receive aid promptly through a pinpoint response rather than waiting for an alarm to sound at the next missed check-in perhaps one or two hours later.

Automated safety monitoring is easy to implement, making it an ideal successor to current methods. Such safety monitoring systems are predominantly web-based, providing the greatest level of compatibility on computers and mobile devices and ensuring critical information can be accessed from any location by any authorized personnel. These solutions are designed to facilitate rapid adoption by management and employees alike and include an option for central monitoring of emergency alerts to reduce the internal burden of monitoring upon current personnel.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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