Implementing personal emergency ID in the workplace

Wednesday, 07 September, 2016 | Supplied by: Safety Headquarters Pty Ltd

Vital id

Personal emergency ID should be viewed as a critical component in the risk management toolbox for businesses, particularly for health and safety professionals in the construction industry.

The benefits of personal emergency ID become readily apparent when an incident occurs in the workplace. The following incident description highlights these operational benefits:

“During an electrical fault incident at a construction site, one worker was quickly overcome by fumes, tried to move away, but collapsed nearby. This worker had only recently started as a contractor on the site, and his colleagues were not very familiar with him. Fortunately for this worker, the site’s health and safety manager had implemented a Personal Emergency ID regime. And although the worker’s supervisor and colleagues knew little about this worker when paramedics attended the scene, they were able to immediately assess his ID and determine his full name, medical history and family contact.

“The details revealed that he had an underlying respiratory condition likely to have been severely exacerbated by the fire fumes. Having access to the ID meant that the situation was dealt with far more effectively than if this information had not been readily accessible. Thankfully in this incident example, there was a happy outcome and the worker returned to work a few weeks later.”

Incidents like this example are happening worldwide across all industries and clearly demonstrate the importance of having some basic knowledge about an employee at a critical time. Efficient management at the beginning of an incident, or when a medical condition arises, increases the chances of a positive long-term outcome.

It is important to note that personal emergency ID is not just for workers who have a medical condition or who take medication, but for anyone who is employed on the site. Employers can reasonably insist that an ID includes a worker’s name and contact details for their manager. However, it should be an employee’s choice as to which further information they supply. This encourages ownership of their health and safety, while ensuring that an organisation’s compliance status is not compromised.

Low-tech personal emergency ID options range from dog tags to handwritten ID cards, wrist bags, as well as ID that adheres to hard hats and other PPE apparel. They are low cost and do not require a computer, a bar scanner or access to a cellular network. However, they must adhere to the C.A.R.R. principle to be effective — meaning that the ID needs to be conspicuous, accessible, relevant and resilient.

A further option is use of high-tech personal emergency ID. A memory card or chip allows detailed personal information to be stored and read, but is conditional on first responders and incident managers having access to a device that can read it. Some products use bar and QR codes, which can be scanned to access relevant information.

For lone workers and those working in the field, some types of personal emergency ID contain a tracking device so they can be easily located in the event of an incident. Many rely on the cellular network to pinpoint someone’s remote location and provide voice contact using adapted smartphones.

The Vital ID personal emergency ID range is available from Safety Headquarters.

Image credit: © Caton

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