Fermanagh District Council is a unique local authority in that it covers one entire county in Northern Ireland. County Fermanagh makes up one-eighth of the province’s land mass and the Council represents the largest local government district in geographical terms.
The Council’s staff are committed to providing an extensive range of services across a district which has a widely dispersed local community. This necessarily involves staff travelling to quite remote areas, often alone.
For example, Building Control Officers may be away from the office for lengthy periods as they make essential site visits. Mindful of its safety obligations, the Council recognised that officers such as these were exposed to the dangers associated with construction sites but that they had no effective means of raising the alarm if they were in difficulty. Where an officer was due to be away from the office all day, the Council felt it was unacceptable to depend on an alarm being raised by the officers’ family on their non-appearance at the end of a working day.
Guardian24 met with Fermanagh’s team to discuss their needs and explore a number of options.
Various systems were explained and demonstrated, and a trial period was agreed for a system based on the use of Council-issued mobile phones. This was facilitated by Guardian24 who provided a training session for the staff involved.
Following the successful trial Fermanagh District Council opted to roll-out the system to Building Control Officers, Dog Wardens and Pest Control Officers. Again, Guardian24 provided a full training package. Their specialist staff trainers visited the council to provide bespoke training and ensure all council staff were completely comfortable with operating the new system before it went ‘live’.
The service chosen by the council combines the use of mobile phones with a fully accredited Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Council staff can now log a proposed site visit giving an estimated time for completion. If staff fail to check out of their visit within the specified time period an alert is raised with the relevant Council Manager. Time allowance was also built in for those areas of the County with intermittent poor mobile phone signal coverage.
Building Control Officers use GPS positioning to identify the sites they visit with a high degree of geographical precision. This also helps to quickly pinpoint the location of a member of staff if they are in difficulty at that location.
Controllers at Guardian24’s ARC understands the importance of GPS positioning in order to pass this information on to the relevant Council Manager in the event of an alert being raised. This will facilitate identifying quickly and effectively where assistance is required.
Since the introduction of Guardian24, the general view from a user’s perspective is that the system is an excellent monitoring system that enhances their safety during a lone working activity. It gives them reassurance that their whereabouts are known when an alert is raised. It increases staff confidence when carrying out inspections in remote locations.
The Council now has a cost effective means of monitoring the safety of their lone workers using a sensible method that’s proportionate with the level of risk assessed. The Council receives incident reports from Guardian24 including inadvertent time overruns, routinely via simple reports sent promptly by email.
The system can also be analysed by a system administrator in the Council to obtain reports on usage, for example, to see if any trends are emerging.