Genesis Housing use Guardian24 to Protect Their Lone Workers
Genesis Housing Association is one of the largest and most diverse housing associations in the UK, managing more than 40,000 properties. Working throughout Greater London, the Home Counties and East Anglia, Genesis Housing provides homes and services to support its customers and local communities. The association offers a range of services to suit individual’s needs and requirements including a range of tenures from affordable rent and shared ownership schemes to outright sales, a substantial new build programme, homes and support for vulnerable people and initiatives to improve communities at grass root levels.
Genesis Housing Association covers a wide geographical area and employs over 1,650 people, with around 500 of these employees classed as lone workers. Many of these lone workers are based in the field, working with a range of customers. As a provider of housing management services, there are many situations where Genesis’ staff are required to work out of the office, and lone working is unavoidable. This can be on a daily basis for some, such as maintenance staff, surveyors and support staff.
Genesis’ staff provide housing support services to customers that are vulnerable including drug and alcohol dependency. As with many other associations working in the community, staff may often face challenging circumstances in the course of their work. This might include confrontational members of the public or encountering dangerous situations such as aggressive dogs.
Many of Genesis’ lone workers are based in one fixed location, such as schemes and hostels, and have good relationships with their customers. It is important therefore that any lone worker system covers a wide range of situations, is not intrusive and allows staff to continue with their normal working methods. Genesis is committed to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees including lone workers. They recognise that among other requirements, a lone or mobile worker must be able to summon help by means of a portable, reliable and useable panic alarm device.
Genesis Housing recently underwent a process of a major organisational restructure with the amalgamation of subsidiary organisations. The rationale was to have in place a single association that meets the objectives of delivering more responsive services locally with higher quality and more consistent and reliable standards of service provision for customers. The association has reviewed its policies and procedures to ensure consistency in the delivery of service. In tandem with this process the association agreed to move to one lone working system to ensure consistency in the management of lone working across all of its departments.
Two systems were in use – one provided by lone worker specialists Guardian24, and the other was an in-house solution. The health and safety team led by Senior Health and Safety Advisors Thomas Kennedy and Lamis Al-Kaisi were charged with reviewing the lone working risks and controls in place, as this was commonly commented on during employee appraisals and at team meetings.
We discovered that different areas of the association were using different paper based and technological systems, so were keen to implement one uniform process, meaning all employees had the same level of protection and the situation was simpler to manage.
After reviewing the current situation, Guardian24’s mobile phone software application was considered the system best suited to fulfil the association’s needs as it meets best practice and is fully compliant with the relevant legislative standards and guidance. This technology turns a standard mobile phone into a lone worker personal safety device.
Guardian24 enables mobile workers to log visits to customers and confirm their safe return, and provides the means of raising an emergency alert where the staff member feels threatened or may otherwise require emergency assistance.
Guardian 24 works on many mobile devices and subsequently partnered with BlackBerry manufacturer RIM (Research in Motion) to produce the first ever British Standard-compliant lone worker personal safety device for BlackBerry (British Standard for Lone Working – BS 8484). Compared to various other systems that were being used to help support lone workers, from simple ‘in and out’ boards to an in-house call centre which lone workers were required to call into, Thomas Kennedy found that the Guardian24 system was more effective.
Guardian24 was being used more efficiently, both in terms of lone workers using the system properly and also in efficiently responding to any emergency situations. As a result the system is now being rolled out to all 500 of Genesis Housings’ lone workers.
For Guardian24, protecting lone workers is their core business, and they are focused on helping us to ensure the safety of our staff. Guardian24 has supplied us with a system supported by specialised accredited response centres, and technology better suited to protecting our lone workers than the in-house solution we had in place for some areas of the business.
Staff can now leave details of their movements and whereabouts via their mobile device. The Guardian24 application has been designed for ease of use, so users can quickly and simply enter their details. If a user fails to notify the system when they finish a set task, Guardian24 will attempt to contact them. If they do not answer and their safety cannot be verified, Guardian24 will then alert a nominated respondent at Genesis Housing.
If a user feels at risk, they can also use a ‘Panic Alarm’ function by pressing an assigned key on their mobile device, even if it is locked or in standby mode. This will call a nominated respondent who has the ability to listen live to the incident via a communications channel and assess the response needed. The Police or other emergency services can also listen to the incident which is particularly useful if a lone worker is being held against their will, as the Police can then tailor their response to the risk involved. All recordings are saved and can be used as evidence in court if required. If the mobile device has GPS, this technology can also be used to locate an employee in an incident.
The implementation of Guardian24’s system across Genesis Housing means the health and safety team are now confident they are completely compliant with legislation around the association’s responsibilities for its lone workers. The system now ensures that such members of staff are safe and that the association is doing all it can to protect them.
Guardian24’s web interface allows the health and safety team at Genesis Housing to monitor the system’s usage, and automatically starts a process of investigation into what prompted the device to be activated. Steps can then be taken to resolve the issue, for example, it might reveal that further lone worker training is needed. The Guardian24 system supports other control measures to manage lone worker risks, and Genesis recognises that suitable risk assessment, adequate information, training and supervision are also vital for the safety of lone workers.
Thomas Kennedy feels that the process has helped Genesis Housing to properly identify all its lone workers and bring in a consistently high level of support for all these workers.
All lone workers within the association will now be working with the same secure and reliable system, which fits in easily with their currently working patterns. The association has invested in efficient and effective technology to help keep safe the lone workers that are crucial to its success.
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