Teresa budworth: Safety at the push of a button

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Technology! Some people love it, some people loathe it. But as the end of the day it’s how useful it is that really counts.

So I was happy to read about an idea an employer had recently for using Blackberries to improve the safety of staff.

Working alone, or lone-working as we health and safety-types like to call it, can be a big problem, especially if your work has the potential for confrontation.

Regenda is a housing and regeneration organisation based in the North West of England. It recently provided front-line staff such as its neighbourhood officers, anti-social behaviour workers and those who work to support residents with financial issues, with a special Blackberry based-device.

The device allows staff to inform others where they are and how long they expect to be out and about. Also, at the push of a button, it’s possible for their meetings to be listened in to by a colleague who can then raise an alarm if they feel any situation is “getting out of hand.”

In effect, the technology allows lone workers to feel like they aren’t entirely alone.

In addition, Regenda say they’re using the initiative to show its staff that health and safety isn’t about complicated jargon, but simply a way of looking after their well-being.

Of course, always working alongside others would be the best option. But in health and safety we have to recognise that not all situations can be perfect. Sometimes we have to think differently, and come up with a practical solution that is best suited to everyones needs, whether employer or employee.

Technology is sometimes blamed when things go wrong. Take the summer riots in London for example, when Blackberries were blamed for making communication between wrong-doers much easier. Interestingly, I also recall that health and safety was blamed for the summer riots in some quarters too.

But is it right to blame useful tools that sometimes fall into the wrong hands?

Well done Regenda for using technology for good, and for showing health and safety in a good light!

About Teresa Budworth

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About Teresa Budworth

Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health

During a 30 year career in health and safety, she has specialised in safety consultancy; working with a number of Boards of Directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations. Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH; the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s (now Aviva) Consultancy operation with her post as a non-executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997. She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards. She is a member of IOSH Council.

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