PoC services: mitigating mobile workforce risks
Smart, versatile technology is key for organisations to meet changing occupational health and safety expectations and safety requirements of a mobile workforce, especially in cases where considering the geographical area that needs to be covered and ways to assist staff in an emergency situation are important considerations.
From 1 January 2020 until 21 May 2020, 76 Australian workers have been killed in work-related incidents across various industries. Organisations need to be vigilant about the safety of the workplace and risk consequences, such as: a high turnover of staff; loss of reputation; costly fines; and legal or even criminal prosecution, and Push-to-talk Over Cellular (PoC) services can help businesses to reduce the risks of a mobile workforce.
Having the right workplace health and safety measures in place is a crucial component in protecting the lives of staff, customers, visitors and suppliers. It is also a legal responsibility for Australian organisations to manage occupational health and safety (OHS). This includes developing safe practices and procedures, regularly maintaining equipment, ensuring adequate training and information for employees, and monitoring the conditions of the workplace.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has certainly caused disruption across all industries, evolving the business environment faster than previously anticipated. By adopting new technology, many businesses have been able to adapt and deploy their workforce remotely, with most employees working from home. Industries such as construction, building, field services and emergency services already have a traditionally mobile workforce, spending more time on worksites, in vehicles, assisting customers offsite and otherwise working remotely.
This means that OHS procedures and plans are not a one-size-fits all deal. OHS needs to be tailored for not only each industry, but individually to each organisation and its operations. Although there are still many company leaders who want to see their employees back in the office, it is likely that, for some businesses, the benefits of a mobile workforce will see more employees continuing to work remotely in the long term. For business leaders, this means that OHS procedures need to consider this new working environment and include visibility into where employees are, or will be, throughout the course of the day.
Push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) services enhance the most useful aspects of the traditional two-way radio while integrating and supplementing them with the data and voice capabilities of mobile phone networks. This can be provided via a range of standard and use-specific mobile devices for functionality, and with features such as high-speed data, location services, messaging and recording, and other lone-worker protection capabilities.
PoC technology offers employees a convenient tool, compatible with multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets and hand-portable and in-vehicle devices. This makes it easier for mobile employees to keep the devices with them and makes the solution simpler to operate. Because the service uses multiple underlying public and private networks, it provides a large range of coverage, reaching areas that may not have received cellular network coverage before. Unlike the traditional two-way radio, a PoC service delivers clearer communication because it operates on mobile networks, so it is not subject to being in radio range.
A tailored solution
For organisations, it is important that OHS procedures consider all staff members at all times. This means they cannot take a blanket approach to safety. Some PoC services are even equipped with multiple safety features. These may include: global positioning system (GPS) tracking for consistent awareness of fleet vehicles and staff location; lone worker features such as man-down notifications; and duress capabilities such as dynamic dispatcher-mediated communications, with audio and video recordings for post-event recall and review.
Although a mobile workforce does offer challenges for business leaders to consider when implementing safety protocols, overcoming safety challenges by leveraging smart technology can save lives. It is a legal requirement, and a moral duty, for organisations to maintain a safe environment for all personnel. The importance of employee safety can never be overstated. With the diversifying needs of a mobile workforce, organisations must pivot to ensure that their safety equipment and supporting technology is flexible enough to meet the new industry and business environments.
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