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Going the extra mile to protect remote workers is now law

New National Model Work Health and Safety Legislation came into effect in all states on 1 January 2012, but many organisations are yet to comply with the new regulations. Employers who fail to take action to incorporate the new requirements leave themselves vulnerable to the consequences if their staff are injured at work.

Heightened duty of care

The new legislation is designed, in part, to safeguard remote and lone workers.

According to the act, a person conducting a business has a duty of care to manage the risks of all employees and contractors, including those who engage in remote or isolated work off site.

Employers are now required to ensure that they provide all workers who carry out remote or isolated work with tools that guarantee effective communication and the ability to call for rescue or medical assistance in the case of an accident or emergency.

It’s serious business, but according to Roger Ghent, National Sales Manager at Ezy2c, (Ezy2c is a leading service provider of remote worker safety solutions), an organisation’s desire to protect their workforce is driven less by the fear of incurring liability when something goes wrong, and more by the satisfaction of knowing that their employees have arrived home safely at the end of the day.

Definition of a remote or lone worker

Remote or isolated work is defined as work that is isolated from the assistance of other people because of the location, time or nature of the work being done.

Remote and isolated work includes utility workers, long distance freight transport drivers, scientists, park rangers and others carrying out field work alone.

A worker may also be considered isolated even if other people may be close by, for example, a cleaner working by themselves at night in a city office building, a real estate agent or a social worker visiting a client’s home.

Effective communication

Having worked in the industry for many years, Mr Ghent is well aware that working alone or remotely increases the risk of any job.

“In some parts of Australia, staff may be driving through or working in extremely inaccessible areas, hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from base,” he explains. “Poor access to emergency assistance is one of the main hazards of remote or isolated work, which is why employers must now consider a range of factors when assessing the risks.”

The factors are:

• What forms of communication does the worker have access to?

• Are there procedures for regular contact with the worker?

• Will the emergency communication system work properly in all situations?

• If communication systems are vehicle-based, what arrangements are there to cover the worker when he or she is away from the vehicle?

Fortunately, Ezy2c, Australia’s leading online GPS monitoring company, provides proven solutions for each risk factor.

Wide coverage for a wide land

Equipping workers with a mobile phone is of little use if the worker is out of mobile range or has run out of battery.

Two-way radios have a limited range and may not be effective if the workers are in an area where there is a signal black spot.

A satellite phone may be a better option, but even these are not considered a guaranteed communication method.

Ezy2c offers a range of GSM, Next G & Satellite/Hybrid tracking solutions that allow the remote worker to make contact wherever they happen to be – and to get help fast in the case of an emergency.

Staying in touch with the touch of a screen

Many businesses have procedures in place that require their remote and lone workers to check in to base regularly. The worker may be expected to phone in via their mobile before leaving a location and call from a landline upon arrival (if a landline is available).

This system often relies on a staff member being available to take the calls and log the worker’s whereabouts at base. This is an expensive option once salaries and the cost of calls are considered.

Furthermore, the procedure may break down if the worker is out of mobile range or the call centre operative fails to update the log book.

Ezy2c’s automated solutions take human error out of the equation with a simple notification that’s sent to base each time the worker turns the engine on or off.

A regular prompt to hit the ‘I’m fine’ response on the dash-mounted console is another good way for a company to have peace of mind that the job is on track and the worker is safe.

Works first time every time, guaranteed

Stuart German from Ezy2c’s West Australian office believes that many organisations may be under the impression that they have ticked all the boxes when it comes to monitoring the location of their remote and lone workers by simply equipping their vehicles with an emergency beacon fitted to its roof.

“They may not have thought through what would happen if a vehicle rolled over,” he says. “There’s every likelihood that the beacon will be damaged which may prevent the emergency signal from being transmitted.”

Ezy2c’s GPS tracking products are mounted securely within the dash cavity and in most cases continue to function in the event of a severe accident or rollover.

SOS pendants that save lives

Knowing that a worker will be always able to call for assistance from their vehicle in the event of an emergency is one thing, but what happens when the worker is performing their duties away from the vehicle?

It’s imperative that workers are provided an SOS device that can raise the alarm if he or she is injured off site.

There are many personal alarm and SOS devices on the market but, according to Mr German, some of these are known to be unreliable. A hand-held tracker doesn’t always work if the worker is down in a ditch, for example, or if the satellites are not aligned.

That’s where the Ezy2c SOS pendant is different. It’s designed only to send a signal to the GPS tracking device in the vehicle, which in turn creates an SMS or email alert back to base.

Ezy2c offers two different SOS pendants; a short range model that will transmit back to the vehicle from up to 100 metres away and a long range version that will transmit from up to 1000 metres away. It’s a simple solution to a complex problem, and one that is helping to create a safer workplace for all Australians.

Superior return on investment

Ezy2c reduces both the risk and costs associated with managing a mobile workforce.

That’s because as well as providing one of the most technologically-advanced communication systems on the market today, Ezy2c’s online tracking solutions offer a complete vehicle management system.

It’s a win/win situation according to Mr Ghent.

“Our clients are receiving all the added benefits of online GPS tracking for very little extra investment,” he says.

These benefits include reports and data that help organisations manage their assets, calculate their payroll and invoicing, know when their vehicles are due to be serviced, manage the performance of their staff and much more.

“But it’s not about Big Brother,” concludes Mr Ghent. “It’s about knowing that you are extending to your remote and lone workers the same duty of care that you offer your workers in the workplace. With modern and affordable GPS solutions readily available, not considering or least becoming familiar which such solutions is fast becoming negligent in itself.”

For more information about Ezy2c’s range of GSM, Next G & Satellite/Hybrid tracking solutions visit www.ezy2c.com.au.au. Should you wish to book a presentation on the solutions and services outlined in this article please contact Roger Ghent on 1300 150 500 to reserve a place.

Ezy2c have offices in Sydney, Grafton, Melbourne, Brisbane & Perth as well as presence in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.

Phone: 1300 150 500 www.ezy2c.com.au.au