The Tragic Loss of a Colleague
In March 2017 the Hawkes Bay Regional Council tragically lost one of their staff in a vehicle incident. Like all accidents, it was unexpected and the outcome was most severe. The loss of a life, a dad to two wee girls, a husband, friend and son.
In August Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s HR Manager, Viv contacted us. No Manager with H&S responsibility ever gets over a loss on their watch. It plagues them for life. His brief to us was “I honestly want to know if we could have done more”. It’s confronting to have to be brutally honest in your assessment of solutions in use in this type of scenario. I really didn’t want to have to point out that well, yes, you could have done x y z. I was relieved to find out that actually, no matter what we might have had in place, this person would not have been saved. So then the focus is on how we might mitigate this risk, in case we have the opportunity to save someone in the future who has a vehicle incident in a remote location.
Viv had a range of technology solutions in place. They had a GPS fleet management solution in the vehicle, PLB in the glovebox, a cell phone and a satellite communication device. They also had a manual phone in system as a back up. The worker had in fact phoned in to say he was finished and safe and well. Unfortunately this call took place prior to him getting safely home.
It was only when his wife was calling around looking for him some 2-3 hours later that the search started. He was out of cell cover so the vehicle solution which relied on cell cover was no good in trying to locate him. He had his satellite device turned on, so that’s how they found him. His vehicle had gone down a bank.
Had the vehicle solution been hybrid, meaning it would send information via iridium as well as cell network, and had it had impact and roll over alert, and if those alerts were monitored, we would have known immediately that there had been an incident. While it wouldn’t have made a difference to saving this life in this instance, we would have known immediately and that is the only way a telematics solution can be a health and safety solution.
We opened a bit of a can of worms with this project, which has complicated it but in the long run, will create a better and safer solution for remote and lone work. The devices which were in use we found out were no longer supported by the manufacturer. It also becomes evident when you have a company like Guardian Angel start really picking apart the detail what the gaps are. When you’re busy doing your everyday job, it’s neigh impossible to think of all the “what ifs” and deal with the manufacturers and providers involved in supplying a solution to figure out if you’re using the device at its full capacity, what other features could you use and how, and also then checking with all staff in the business if they’re comfortable with it and understand it.
There are a number of changes that will be made to the use of the solutions at the HBRC:
- The monitoring will no longer be done in house by colleagues. It will go to our professional, government audited monitoring centre
- The satellite devices which were purchased around 5 years ago, will be upgraded
- We will train staff with hands on practise on sending a SOS and using the messaging on the satellite device
- The processes will include them always driving with the devices in the windshield mounts so that they can be monitored through the windscreen and be within reach if there’s an incident
- They will always be wearing them when out of the car so that they can be reached if they slip or fall and so that they’re in view of the sky if we need to locate them
Us humans are much better at hindsight versus foresight. And when Health and Safety managers have to grapple with what is the best technology, and get bombarded with different opinions and sales people telling them different stuff, it really is a minefield to get it right and to know you’re doing everything you can to cater for that 1% of the time when things really do go terribly wrong. It takes money and time to get it right, but as Hawkes Bay Regional Council know, getting it right is priceless.
The Importance of Monthly Tests
A couple of weeks ago we were discussing the importance of monthly testing with a potential new client. She’s new to the company and following our conversation decided to test one of the Spot devices she knew a lot of their workers in remote locations relied upon. Replacing them was already a project with budget, but all the same, she was interested in how urgent it was. Turns out it’s very urgent! The device failed.
When she checked with the monitoring and platform providers, they advised that device had not sent any signals since 2015!!! 2015….. over 2 years! She was aghast and horrified that all their remote and lone workers in remote locations (and there are quite a few) have been relying on these devices, including this one. The potential consequences are too scary to think about.
Our monthly test report makes is super easy for managers to follow up with the correct staff on why they are not testing and potentially not using their devices. And of course, picks up if any devices are not working. Not only making sure staff are safe, but also making sure the business is compliant with testing their emergency systems and that the investment made by the business in the solution is providing value. Non tested devices appear in red with last test date.
Guardian Angel Monitoring Centre
The Monitoring Centre is a buzzing hive of activity! Monitoring our lone workers each and every day, they respond to each alert in a timely and professional manner.
On average, the 60 employees will answer up to 10,000 incoming calls each week, with 43,000 alarms, providing their superior monitoring service 24/7.
A typical week will see 196 shifts carefully managed, with operators spending on average 180 hours on the phone.
Lone worker alarms are Priority One, and while the national standard response time for these alarms is 60 seconds, their operator's average response time is 23 seconds, that's pretty impressive!
One of the reasons the centre performs at such a high standard is due to their ability to retain staff. Currently, their 60 employees have an average length of service of 30 months and this is actively measured.
This graph shows the current experience held within the team. It's the red lines with over 12 that hurt - never like losing experience. Fantastic to know however, that there are only 16% of staff with less than 10 months of service!
Waikato Regional Council– DOING IT RIGHT
The Waikato Regional Council went to tender to find their solution. Guardian Angel proposed a fully managed and monitored satellite solution. The solution went live on 1st July this year and we are so impressed with the WRC staff! They have a range of different processes to suit the diverse roles within the council. This includes different check in profiles for staff use depending on their role and task. Using check in profiles on satellite devices is a way to mitigate the risk of being out of cell cover, and that the satellite device does not have man down functions, so it has to be manually activated. If it’s a low risk day, we just need to hear from them at the end of it so we know they’re back safe. If it’s a medium risk day, check in twice and high risk 3 or 4 times right up to the Harbour Masters and Environmental Scientists who could check in every 2hours. The key is they have a means of communication regardless of where they are, they have an SOS and help button – the check in is an additional risk mitigation if they are working remote and alone and/or undertaking tasks that carry a degree of risk.
Checking in is easy, but remembering to actually do it can be a challenge when you are absorbed in the task! As a rule we find it takes 4-6 months for regular users of the solution to really form new habits, especially with the range of profiles and processes in one workplace. The Waikato Council staff have taken to this like ducks to water!
Guardian Angel Anna trained all the end users at the council and it’s clear she did a fantastic job. They practised messaging and activating SOS. The managers got training on the Tracertrak portal so they are confident at running reports and checking location of staff and messaging them if they have concerns. Consistent training to all end users with emphasis on the key points we know from experience are vital for success, has proven its worth; combined with clear and easy to follow support documentation and processes. And we are only a call away; although we haven’t had many calls which is a great testament to the training and the engagement level of the staff who are all excited to know they are only a push of a button away from help if ever they need it.
Why Guardian Angel
• We take a holistic approach to ensure success–We configure the device, set up the response, train the users and test all the components. We don’t just send you a box and leave you to it!
• We have 9 years experience in GPS technology in H&S environment
• We have implemented solutions to 900+ lone workers in the last 3 years– we pre-empt the obstacles your project might face
• We are hardware agnostic – we research and stress test solutions as they come to market. If we don’t recommend them, they haven’t passed. If we find one we feel is best of breed, we ensure supply thus we are distributors of EGIS, Blackline Safety, Pivotel, Garmin and Digital Matters
• We are active members of the Health & Safety industry: member of NZISM; we deliver workshops on the topic for EMA and to NZISM branches around NZ; Petra is also in demand as a speaker at Health and Safety and industryevents in Australia and New Zealand
• We are passionate about ensuring risk for lone workers is mitigated and that the solution and its users are adequately supported and monitored
• Our management and monitoring of the solution will provide consistency and protection from loss of knowledge through staff changes
• You will benefit from continued improvement of solution through our experience acrossindustries and platforms