The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that in 2020 there were approximately 78.5 million lone or remote workers in the United States, with a global estimate of approximately 1.3 billion in 2015. This has only been made more complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The definition of what is a “lone” or “field” worker is very broad and covers anyone from nurses making in-home visits, to individuals working alone in factories or warehouses, oil and gas technicians, or even employees working outside of normal business hours, like custodians and service workers. Because they cover a broad range of industries, lone workers and field workers face many varieties of challenges every day, from increased risk of workplace violence to common dangers such as falls. Consequences of which are compounded by the “lone” aspect of their positions.
In the past, safety for these positions has been a difficult issue to solve. However, with the advent of connected worker solutions and technologies, organizations have been able to better ensure the safety of lone workers in the field. By connecting these individuals and teams companies can keep them safe and productive while they are deployed or working remotely.
There are a wide range of unique dangers that threaten lone workers on the job. In 2019 there were a total of 5,333 lone worker deaths, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Empowering field workers with the right tools and technologies will help them make better decisions, improve productivity, shorten emergency response times, and manage their overall safety and well-being.
Technology: Driving Safety and Productivity
Here are some of the technologies driving lone worker safety programs and enabling improved field worker productivity.
Location and GIS – delivering real-time insights: Real-time visibility is challenging for field workers. With RTLS and GIS features, solutions can help in locating and tracking people, assets, and equipment. Field workers can use these solutions for detecting presence and proximity in confined spaces, as well as visualize site and workplace maps in real-time. These can also be used to aggregate location data over time and overlay this data on site-specific maps to optimize travel paths for a recurring inspection round.
Sensory measurement – Enable situational awareness: Enabling situational awareness of immediate surroundings via sensory measurement can play a great role in providing early warnings of incidents. Modern wearables built with sensors can automatically detect and generate local and remote alarms based on configurable rules and policies. These can warn field workers across a range of incidents from:
- thermal exposure
- fall detection
- unsafe exposure to noise, and more.
Remote expert support and on-the-job training: Providing remote expert support and on-the-job training – irrespective of worker location – is a great method of enhancing field worker productivity. Wearables with built-in video streaming, media, and telecommunications have opened new avenues for live communication with experts from remote locations. Field workers can get instant support and guidance on issues that are beyond their capability, and receive on-the-job training as needed.
Real-time safety monitoring: The hazards facing workers become exponentially more dangerous when they are on their own. Health emergencies and falls can quickly turn into fatalities. Technology can be used to monitor environmental conditions as well workers’ physiological conditions in real-time and preemptively intervene when a hazard is detected, alerting workers while also sending data to remote supervisors. Who can then reach out to workers and verify their safety and contact the proper authorities if needed.
Efficient and effective coordination: Fieldworker productivity can also be enhanced by providing teams with systems that allow for efficient planning and scheduling. With features such as location/timestamp data-logging and real-time event and location tracking, these systems can aid in day-to-day logistics & operations. Workers can use these systems to get assistance in the execution of their plans, and more efficiently plan their activities for the day or week.
The underlying foundational capabilities of modern technological solutions are what today’s field workers need to overcome everyday operational problems in the field and address gaps to ensure their safety.
Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. We offer cutting-edge, wearable technology; a proprietary connected worker platform – unrivaled in its ability to ingest, manage and analyze unstructured data; easy to deploy monitoring and reporting software; and a growing ecosystem of partner integrations.
Guardhat enables companies to monitor worker location, health, and work environment to shorten reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. We hold 15 patents in real-time location systems, wearable solution design, and connected worker software. If you are interested in our connected safety solutions – including situational awareness, environmental and biometric monitoring, location tracking, and other lone worker solutions – contact us to arrange a demo.