Guardian Angel Security Giving Lone Workers An Efficient and Safe Way to Work

Peace of mind for workers
When placing someone back into society after struggling with difficulties, there comes a flicker of risk with it too. Since being equipped with Guardian Angel Security devices, Ember’s lone workers have cited that the device has given them peace of mind – especially when having to meet with strangers in an unfamiliar and sometimes rural location on their own. Having help just a button push away puts their minds at ease and allows the workers to carry out their duties with confidence.

 

Reduced Admin and more Efficiency
Efficiency also became an impressive noticeable factor in day-to-day operations, as Ember Team Manager, Iain, could attest to. He claims that the introduction of the security devices has reduced and sometimes altogether removed his need to do end of day check-ins with all of the regional navigation staff members. From an administrative perspective, that’s time saved checking in 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year with 2-3 staff members.

 

Putting the minds of our community heroes at ease
Another employee gave feedback that being equipped with the device on long haul drives in rural areas made the trip less anxiety-riddled. This is due to the devices having in-built impact sensors – so even if a crash occurred, or the driver failed to check-in, the GPS signal would tell the Guardian Angel Response team exactly where to send help! Allowing community heroes like Ember staff to do their jobs without fear is Guardian Angel Security’s mission, making sure that lone workers always have an attentive team at their back ready to send help anywhere, and at any time.

 

“Our staff are working as lone workers, often in remote or more rural areas of the Waikato and Northland. Their work sees them regularly meeting clients one on one, and although by policy, not in their homes, we may meet them while being picked up or dropped off home. One staff member cited that on reflection, they did not know the person or the area. There thankfully was no situation or incident, but they said that having the device on them was peace of mind for an unforeseen situation!”

Michael Hawkey – General Manager Infrastructure – Ember

Transport Talk: Does it not make sense to combine vehicle and lone worker solutions?

I can absolutely understand why it would seem obvious; “we need GPS for our remote and lone workers, and we need it for our cars so we know if someone has gone off the road, or had an incident, so let’s just combine them”.  The problem is, while the GPS technology for locating is the same, the hardware and platforms they sit on are built to deliver vastly different outcomes.  There are many RFP’s that have totally stalled in the last couple of years due to confusion around this and the author of the RFP simply did not understand that what they think they needed, is either not safe or just not doable. 

 

If your person never leaves the vehicle, and the vehicle GPS solution has impact and rollover alert and panic button, and the alerts are professionally monitored with response co-ordination, then you’ve probably got enough cover.  Provided of course you’ve got a satellite comms modem fitted to it if your person is likely to drive outside of cell cover.  With our many B Grade roads in NZ and lack of cell cover on them, that’s a really important consideration.   Often, I come across people who think because it’s GPS, it will work everywhere.  It won’t.  The GPS is the location part, we still need a network to send the location information (and any other comms) over.  The solutions are fitted with a SIM card, so it will only send information when you’re in cell cover.  Vehicle solutions store the data (location, speed etc) until you’re back in cell cover and then it sends.  That is unless you have a solution with iridium connectivity.  This is worth checking if you’re not sure. 

 

To truly protect a lone worker, you need them to be wearing the device and you need it to be sending updated GPS location information on a very regular basis (to the server).  The amount of data a lone worker device has to send (our cell devices send every 60sec) massively complicates the hardware and architecture of the platform it sits on.  Most vehicle solutions don’t need to be constantly tracking.  If they have impact/roll over alerts, they send that data as priority alerts and because the vehicle is always outside in view of the sky, there is no problem with GPS location (GPS can’t locate you once you leave view of the sky).  If you, however, have a worker, and they just don’t come back to the office when they should, you need a breadcrumb trail so you can start looking for them.  If they’re inside a building, and you have no breadcrumb trail, you have no hope of finding them.  The other problem is most vehicle solutions don’t come fitted with satellite coms for out of cell cover.  In NZ we have many areas with black spots in cell cover.  For vehicles with sat comms, they tend again, to send only priority alerts over the satellite network, which is fine because the vehicle is outside, and there’s no real need to see a breadcrumb trail, but for a people the same doesn’t work.

 

Configuring a lone worker device needs a lot of consultation and the parameters of the functions are entered on the platform and over air sent to the device.  Each person might have different settings dependant on the job they do, and we need to be able to update these settings with ease in future should the role change or we find the sensitivity of functions such as the man down needs to be adjusted.  None of these functions are required on a vehicle solution and vehicles in a fleet all usually have the same parameters.  Add that to the reporting you need, which again might be different for each lone worker and most certainly different for what type of data you want from your vehicle solution, and there really is no correlation between the two solutions other than the fact that they both use GPS.

 

You can display the location of both, cars and people on one platform, but you cannot manage them all on one platform (without a lot of compromises).  Trying to get a vehicle telematics company to look after lone workers results in a lot of compromises which quite frankly is not appropriate when we’re talking about lives.  We do believe in, and offer the service, of combining the alerts monitoring and response from your vehicles and lone workers.  Impact, panic and rollover alerts from vehicles should be treated with the same level of mission-critical care as lone workers.  It’s worth also noting that good quality lone worker solutions have impact and no movement alerts, which of course will extend to protect the person if they’re driving and have an incident.

What does the HSWA actually say?

  1. PCBU must provide effective communication, meaning if there’s no cell cover, you need an alternative, and if the risk is such that the communication, ie cell phone, can’t effectively be used (imagine a dog or person about to attack you and you have to try find your phone, dial 111, request the service you want, explain where you are and what’s happening…… clearly not effective).
  2. Work can be remote or isolated from the assistance of other persons because of location, time, or the nature of the work. Work can be isolated without being remote, and be remote without being isolated.

 

We have man down solutions in places like large ports, warehousing and manufacturing plants where people are working out of line of sight of others. Here’s a summary of the actual wording (to download a PDF of the guidelines click here).

PCBUs must first try to eliminate a risk if this is reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate, the risk must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

If remote or isolated work is to take place, PCBUs must follow the prescribed risk management process described in Section 2 of these Guidelines to manage risks to the health and safety of a worker who performs remote or isolated work.

In addition, the PCBU must provide a system of work that includes effective communication with workers. What constitutes an effective communication system will also depend on the sorts of risks faced by the worker (and may need to include panic systems). A communication system that has gaps in coverage or cannot be used in an emergency is unlikely to be effective.

 

Examples of control measures for remote or isolated workers include to:

  • Have a buddy system or to work together with others.
  • Be trained in emergency procedures including what to do during natural disasters.
  • Carry appropriate supplies including suitable first aid equipment.
  • Have access to adequate facilities (water, eating facilities, toilets, accommodation) at the remote location.
  • Carry communication devices that work at the remote location (eg radio, satellite or cell phones, pagers or distress beacons) and another means to raise the alarm.
  • Contact home to check-in at specified times (or are contacted by another worker at specific times) with failure to check-in triggering the emergency response plan.
  • Be remotely monitored (eg using CCTV).

 

For lone workers, consider:

  • Is the work suitable to be carried out by a lone worker or if the worker proposed to carry out the work has the competence to work alone and be unsupervised?
  • Can the work be done using a buddy system?
  • What support systems (such as radio telephones, man-down alarms, emergency procedures and first aid kits, and safety checks) may help to reduce the risk?
  • Work can be remote or isolated from the assistance of other persons because of location, time, or the nature of the work. Work can be isolated without being remote, and be remote without being isolated.

 

Remote or isolated work includes:

  • Working alone or separated from colleagues.
  • Working in a geographically isolated or inaccessible area –where the nearest emergency help (eg fire service or hospital) is some distance away.
    Working outside normal business hours or shift/night work.
  • Working in locations where communication is difficult.

 

If you have any questions Please get in touch for guidance and impartial, evidence-based advice to make the responsible choice for the safety of your Lone Workers.

Guardian Angel Duress Device Rescues Animal Control Officer

The situation report
On August 17th, 2020, warranted Dog Control Officer, Lisa Martel, was on the road conducting routine patrols for wandering dogs when she spotted a dog that she recognised. The animal was known to Council after being impounded over a year earlier, so she immediately pulled over and began the attempt to catch him. During the chase, Lisa came head-to-head with a man on a mobility scooter and the dog’s owner – from whom the dog had been seized previously. Both men furiously tried to hold onto the animal and keep the officer from getting close enough to seize it, even using the scooter as a barrier. The situation escalated and the owner’s next move was to become verbally abusive. Lisa knew it was time back-off and to call for assistance.

 

The safety action
Lisa activated the SOS on her duress device. Guardian Angel operator, Taylor, picked up the call placed by the device directly linked to the emergency line in the station. Taylor could hear the argument taking place, took note of the situation and details of the owner and his father making an escape on foot while carrying the animal. Constant GPS tracking on the device made it incredibly easy for Taylor to despatch the police to Lisa’s exact location. Lisa was able to use her device and speak with Taylor, who stayed on the call until police were sighted minutes later, and when she was sure Lisa was safe. Operators followed the agreed phone tree and had other council staff on the way immediately.

 

Client feedback

Taylor was great, she made me feel like I was being listened to and took the situation very seriously. She had heard everything and had made loads of notes, even noting down the colour of the dog! Learning that she had been listening to the whole time made me feel a lot safer. Taylor stayed on the line until she knew I was ok and the police had arrived on-site, which kept me from feeling like I was on my own out there.

 

The owner had taken off and hidden somewhere on private property, and the search was unfortunately abandoned – but the Guardian Angel system worked beautifully to get the police to my location quickly. I am so grateful to Taylor for being so attentive, reassuring me that the police were on their way, and for keeping me calm through what could have potentially been a much worse situation!

Lisa Martel, Animal Control Officer

 

For guidance and impartial, evidence-based advice to make the responsible choice for the safety of your Lone Workers, please get in touch.

Lessons about lone worker safety from Garmin’s 5,000th SOS

After triggering an SOS on their inReach device when a boat overturned, leaving a woman unable to walk, the team of rafters were able to communicate with the response team to coordinate a point for the helicopter to meet them, saving valuable time and ensuring the woman received treatment as quickly as possible. Read more in the article here.

 

While this situation was a recreational activity, it highlights the importance of a fast and reliable response and two way communication when it comes to remote and lone worker safety solutions. We are very proud to be working with Garmin to provide solutions that save lives. With the Guardian EVERYWHERE Hub, paired with an inReach device and integrated via API to our NZ based monitoring and response software, your people will be guaranteed a fast and reliable response, in real time (as opposed to relying on electronic messaging).

 

If you would like to move your existing Garmin InReach devices to the most comprehensive HUB with greater functionality, or you are looking at implementing a remote worker solution, please register your interest here.

Unrivalled safety for remote workers now available in NZ with the Guardian EVERYWHERE Hub

We have partnered with EVERYWHERE Communications as the exclusive distributor in New Zealand to bring you the Guardian EVERYWHERE Hub. This technology, purpose-built for enterprise & government and never before available in New Zealand, will be integrated via API to our response software to guarantee a fast and reliable response, in real time (as opposed to relying on electronic messaging).

 

Benefits of the Guardian Everywhere Hub include:

  • Intelligent routing to ensure your team is always connected (even if they are out of cell cover) as they transition between Wi-Fi, cellular and iridium satellite coverage.
  • Geo fencing with entry and exit alerts will notify if someone is entering a “no go” zone, if they have not come out of a particular area or to know they’ve returned to base.
  • Team structure with customisable display filters to visualise teams & team activity, including breadcrumb trails.
  • Pulse welfare checks by groups or individually to proactively make sure all your teams are ok.
  • Geo coded and time stamped photos with voice memos for before/after pictures of jobs, annotations.
  • Heat-mapping to get a visual of where people are spending their time.
  • All functionality run through a smartphone based companion app paired with your inReach device.

 

More detailed information on the Guardian EVERYWHERE Hub is available here and in the below presentation.

All this is available with same-day activation: Guardian-EVERYWHERE Ready to Go. You’ll receive all enhanced features of the Guardian-EVERYWHERE hub with a click of one button (“deactivate off Garmin”) Everything else is handled by the Guardian-EVERYWHERE Team (Device activation and replicated device aliases from Garmin, account setup followed by comprehensive training).

 

If you would like to move your existing Garmin InReach devices to the most comprehensive HUB with greater functionality, or you are looking at implementing a remote worker solution, please register your interest below.

API Integration Saves Lives

When you press that SOS button on your panic device, you’re in trouble. You’re seriously hurt or about to be, every minute counts. If there was a 5% chance your SOS would not be received, is that ok? Would you get on a plane if there was a 5% chance it might crash? You’re hurt and you think someone will come to help you. But nobody does, you’re losing critical minutes and maybe even consciousness.

 

The responder was relying on an electronic message to get the alert and it was coming from an overseas based supplier to an NZ responder. Unfortunately it got caught in one of the SPAM filters it has to get through to reach NZ and the end responder. Or maybe there was pressure on the network and overseas messaging is low priority so it was delayed by a few hours or maybe even weeks. To us that’s absolutely unacceptable and the reason we stress to customers how vital API integration is for critical response monitoring of lone workers.

 

Yes it’s an investment, but one we committed to at the launch of Guardian Angel. Our positioning of being Gold Band Standard has meant we have never missed an alert and every incident we have had, has had a successful fast rescue. Do you know how your alerts are being received currently?

 

Being told there’s an integration, is not the right answer. It could still be relying on electronic messages. The question to ask is: “Is there an API integration with the device supplier software?”.

 

WHAT IS AN API INTEGRATION? 

API or Application Programming Interface means one computer application can speak directly to another. A bit like typing a url (link) into your search bar, this sends a request to the website you want to talk to, ie LinkedIn and voila.. you’re on the LinkedIn page. When an SOS is raised on one of our Garmin inReach or Blackline Safety devices, the SOS “types” a request to our response software which says “can I send you this?” and of course the answer is “yes you come in here” or “go away” if you’re not a Guardian Angel device”. If it’s a Guardian Angel device, voila… it pops up in front of the operator with who, what, where, and what actions they need to take. Yes, the monitoring will perhaps cost a bit more, but isn’t anything less a waste of money with no surety that it will work? And what price do you put on not just peace of mind of knowing that fast response is guaranteed, but on safety. We think all remote and lone workers deserve Gold Band Standard so that’s why we won’t discount our service or compromise on the amount of time and money we spend in the background training, testing, developing.

 

What happens in the event of a real-life SOS emergency? To help explain the difference between communication systems we’ve created a diagram to illustrate the impact on the likelihood of an effective response.

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE OF SMS & EMAIL DELAYS

At Guardian Angel we get the emails and SMS’s as a back up in addition to the API request. That’s our belts and braces approach. Time and again we see seriously delayed messages (SMS in particular). One time the SMS came through 3 months later, long after we had responded to the message received via API. Of course it was 1am and the operator at first didn’t realise it was an old alert so it caused a few people to be woken up! Better safe than sorry though and we learned to train operators to double check the whole string of info on an electronic message alert to look for the original date/time of generation.

 

ACT NOW

For impartial advice on protecting your lone workers, get in touch for a complimentary safety discovery session.

NBR: SME tax relief top priority, says Guardian Angel Security owner

Petra Hakansson sold her Auckland home in 2014 to provide the working capital for her health and safety company, Guardian Angel Security, despite the fact she was raising two teenagers.


The company’s point of difference is that it provides advice on wearable GPS pendants that help keep track of remote and lone workers out of cellphone coverage, but also sells the hardware from a range of distributors, provides monitoring 24/7 of the devices, and support and advice on how to use them.


The company has stuck to health and safety monitoring for the likes of regional councils, vineyards, and powerline companies rather than the aged care sector, which is already well provided for.


Hakansson’s sacrifice has paid off so far, with the company profitable and enjoying growth of 40% year on year, until Covid-19 struck. She’s also proud to have never lost a client.


The Covid lockdowns have stagnated growth but the company’s work is deemed an essential service, as was that of many of its clients. Monthly income from monitoring contracts has continued to provide a steady income, along with Australian clients. A planned official launch into Australia this year, though, has also been delayed until early next year due to Covid disruption.


Hakansson thinks the government has done a good job over the past three years on communication but questions whether that messaging has always been 100% transparent. She thinks there has been a lack of presenting the real picture on social issues, in particular, such as child poverty and domestic abuse and wants to see more done about those problems.


ACC, GST, other taxes ‘quite gouging’.

As a small to medium-size business owner, her main concern is the amount of ACC levies, GST, and other tax she has to pay. “It’s quite gouging of small business and makes it really hard to grow,” she said, particularly when bootstrapping the company.


“New Zealand has some really high tax rates and if I could reinvest the money instead of paying all the tax we do, I could grow much faster and employ more people faster, which has to be a good thing for the economy.”


Although she has a number of government and local government clients, Hakansson encourages government departments to buy from Kiwi SMES and buy on value, delivery, and good service rather than just on price.

Guardian Angel Security Lone Worker Devices

Guardian Angel Security sells a range of tracking devices, monitoring and GPS pendents for remote workers.

 

“I know they are being asked to do so, and to look at broader outcomes when they are making purchase decisions, so I would welcome that. It would be good if it was actually walked as well as talked,” she said.

 

She thinks the same attitude prevails among many corporates as well, despite the safety of remote workers being covered by health and safety legislation.

 

“When I can see a company that can well and truly afford to pay for a decent solution going for a shonky overseas outfit, that really upsets me.”

 

The pick up
When asked what policies she thought would help stimulate the economy, Hakansson said one would be to let more wealthy people come to New Zealand from overseas, even if it is just for a few years.

 

“It’s milkshake money for them to ask for $5 million, say, for a five-year visa and get them to keep the money here.”

 

She’s also keen to hear from politicians about their policies in the coming election campaign rather than just a focus on Covid. “That is not what I am voting on,” she said.

 

And while leadership matters, “I think it is more important that there is a really cohesive team of people with real experience in the portfolios that they have, as opposed to being a career politician.”

 

Hakannson would like to see more help and funding for SMEs given they comprise the vast majority of New Zealand companies.

 

“It’s really hard work to get funding. I’ve had not funding other than through Sheo, the women’s entrepreneurial group, which is an interest-free loan. I could have employed more people and much faster if I had more funding but when you are bootstrapping, it is much slower growth.”

 

The company employs just four full-time staff but contracts out a number of major roles – including chief technical officer, chief financial officer, and marketing manager – which helps with work-life balance for them, and flexibility for the business in times of downturn.

Long term relationships with customers including Worksafe NZ brings many benefits

2 years ago, Worksafe went to market with an idea that they wanted to try to combine their vehicle solution with their lone worker solution.  After extensive investigation the decision was made to indeed implement a vehicle solution while continuing to entrust Guardian Angel with their lone worker safety. We are proud that Worksafe continue to put their trust in us to keep their people safe.

 

The implementation of the inReach solution with Worksafe taught us a lot. 

We learned a lot about user engagement, and the value of this prior to implementation to make sure the processes and the set up of the device makes sense to the particular roles in the field.  Especially when the devices are all shared and the extra complexity this brings.  Clients don’t have and nor would we expect them to have, specific knowledge of how GPS works, what will and won’t work where etc.  So the collaboration between client and supplier are vital to ensure success.  Really good clear communication and lots of questions from us to truly understand the clients environment and risks are the only way the very best solution can be implemented the very best way.  And every company is different.  Different risks and different cultures.  Worksafe had operational staff changes right at implementation time so that added challenges. 

 

Great communication and deep relationships is what earns us the trust to protect staff in the field. 

Since then, the Guardian Angel team members have developed great relationships with Worksafe support staff around the country so now we know exactly who to go to, what information needs to go where and the best way to communicate with the different teams.   We have also learned a lot, like a lot! We know the technology better than anyone, but we have learned more about not being shy with some of our questions.  We really need to understand the culture and what communications methods are going to get traction.  How much engagement is required before implementation and the best change management methods, including the end user training.

 

Putting our experience into action.

Yesterday we sent Police to help Lisa, one of our council Animal control officers.  Lisa was not at all expecting any problems in her day when she found herself in a totally unexpected situation.  It was a reminder of why we do what we do.  The SOS reached us with lightning speed due our insistence on API integration (we don’t rely on sms or email to monitor), we had a two way call connected within milli seconds.  Our operator Taylor did an amazing job of taking down details to pass to our second operator who was despatching Police (our operators always team up on lone worker alarms), and keeping Lisa updated with Police ETA.

 

I spoke to Lisa yesterday and she expressed how grateful she was, and how Taylor kept her calm.  Police and Lisa’s manager arrived within a short time and while the perpetrators had run off, Lisa was shaken but unharmed.  So it was a good outcome.  Lisa has had her Guardian Angel pendant for over 3 years but has never had to use it.  The fact that she didn’t hesitate, knew exactly what to do, and that our operators knew exactly what to do, is testament to our rigorous processes in operator training and monthly testing giving everyone an opportunity to practise for that one time it’s needed.  We have had a number of incidents in the last year which continues to strengthen our commitment to the work behind the scenes and the importance of having these solutions in place for that one time it all goes wrong, and the speed of response is potentially life saving.

 

To discuss your lone worker needs with us and receive impartial advice that can help save lives, please, get in touch.  We’d love to help protect your staff.