Everyone has the right to return home “safe” at the end of the workday. For employers, safeguarding this right for all employees in not just a moral obligation, it’s a legal one.
In Canada’s energy sector it isn’t uncommon for employees or contractors to work alone, outdoors, or beyond the reach of traditional landline and cellular networks. Wild animal attacks, weather, the risk of violence at isolated sites, are among the numerous hazards these individuals might face and why lone worker provisions are necessary.
Occupational Health and Safety regulations and Bill C-45 amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code (CCC) were designed to help protect employees and have important implications for employers. Enforcement varies by jurisdiction, so it is always advisable to contact your local regulator to better understand your obligations. Despite the differences, most OHS regulations have specific “lone worker” provisions and many jurisdictions obligate employers to:
- conduct a hazard assessment and take all reasonable precautions to eliminate or minimize the hazard;
- provide an effective means for the employee to communicate the need for assistance and obtain it; and/or
- maintain a system of regular contact to check on the well-being of these employees.
A reliable system of two-way communication is often the best protection – for both employers and employees. The spread of cellular networks has made this easier, however much of Canada’s geography remains off-the-grid, making it difficult for employers to fulfill the obligation to “maintain a system of regular contact” with employees in these regions. Fortunately, there are affordable new satellite-based devices that work anywhere and can help safeguard employees and ensure compliance with Lone Worker laws.
With a wide portfolio of lone worker solutions and a keen understanding of Canada’s Lone Worker provisions, Roadpost is one company that is well equipped to help employers looking to address this important issue. “Anyone who directs the work of others should understand their obligation under the law, to take all reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to those individuals,” explains Kim Layne, VP of Marketing at Roadpost. “There are numerous handheld devices, smartphone apps and monitoring systems that can come to the rescue — mitigating risk for employers and employees.”
Satellite communicators like the DeLorme inReach can be used anywhere on earth for two-way text messaging, email or SOS alerting. The device can be used on its own or paired with the user’s smartphone for added messaging convenience. The inReach interoperates with a choice of web-based monitoring apps making it easy for employers to maintain a system of regular contact, and monitor or respond to emergency alerts. The low price of the device, and monthly subscriptions that can be changed or suspended anytime make it ideal for seasonal operators or budget conscious employers.
Iridium Extreme® is a good option for situations where voice communication is required. With ubiquitous coverage and a programmable SOS button, this GPS-enabled satellite phone is also compatible with monitoring apps like GeoPro for improved check-in and emergency management.
The Iridium GO!™ provides a global satellite connection for voice and data on smartphones and tablets. The instant Wi-Fi hotspot can be used to make calls or check email from the user’s smartphone, over the satellite network. It also features a built-in SOS button for emergency alerting.
For smartphone users that can depend on reliable cellular coverage, simple check-in apps downloaded to their phone can make this task a breeze.
Back at the office web based monitoring portals like GeoPro or the Enterprise portal from DeLorme, help employers to check on lone workers and be promptly alerted about missed check-in or emergency events, and demonstrate compliance with Lone Worker laws. Some portals also work in conjunction with the employer’s preferred monitoring alternative, whether an internal dispatch center or a specialized third party call center like GEOS.
“Employers of every size are capitalizing innovative and affordable devices like the inReach to better protect employees at even the most remote worksites,” says Layne. “Today’s devices and apps have opened up new options for employer to address their duty of care concerns, and they won’t break the bank or take weeks to deploy. As one client that uses inReach explained to me, the bottom line is that employees think that the devices are cool and, most importantly, they feel more confident going about their activities at these remote sites. It’s a win-win.”
To learn more about solutions to address lone worker duty of care, contact Kim Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org.