Fermanagh District Council is a unique local authority n that it covers one entire county in Northern Ireland. County Fermanagh makes up 1/8 of the province’s land mass and the Council represents the largest local government district in geographical terms.
The Council’s staff are committed to providing an extensive range of services across a district which has a widely dispersed local community. This necessarily involves staff travelling to quite remote areas, often alone. For example, Building Control Officers may be away from the office for lengthy periods as they make essential site visits. Mindful of its safety obligations the Council recognised that officers such as these were exposed to the dangers associated with construction sites but that they had no effective means of raising the alarm if they were in difficulty. Where an officer was due to be away from the office all day the Council felt it was unacceptable to depend on an alarm being raised by the officers’ family on their non-appearance at the end of a working day.
Guardian24’s Area Manager, Jonathan Lancaster, met with the team to discuss their needs and explore a number of options. Various systems were explained and demonstrated, and a trial period was agreed of a system based on the use of Council-issued mobile phones. This was facilitated by Guardian24 who provided a training session for the staff involved. Following the successful trial Fermanagh District Council opted to roll-out the system to Building Control Officers and to Dog Warden and Pest Control Officers. Again, Guardian24 provided a full training package. Their specialist staff trainers visited the council to provide bespoke training and ensure all council staff were completely comfortable with operating the new system before it went ‘live’.
The service chosen by the council combines the use of mobile phones with an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Council staff can now log a proposed site visit giving an estimated time for completion. If staff fail to close out of their visit within the specified time period an alert is raised with the relevant Council manager. Time allowance was also built in for those areas of the County with intermittent poor mobile phone signal coverage.
Building Control Officers use the Geo-Code system to identify the sites they visit with a high degree of geographical precision. This also helped to quickly pinpoint the location of a member of staff if they were in difficulty at that location. Guardian24 liaised with the ARC to emphasise the importance of recording the Geo-Codes given by staff so they could relay them on to the relevant Council manager in the event of an alert being raised. This will facilitate identifying quickly and effectively where assistance is required”.
Since the introduction of Guardian 24 the general view from a user’s perspective is that the system is an excellent monitoring system which enhances their safety during a lone working activity, with the reassurance that their whereabouts are known when an alert is raised. It gives staff confidence and security when carrying out inspections in remote locations.
Staff have been using Guardian24 for a few months and are still getting used to the system and new working protocol of having to log an activity and remembering also to log out of the activity, however given time this will become a formality.
The Council now has a cost effective means of monitoring the safety of their lone workers using a sensible method commensurate with the level of risk assessed. The council receives incident reports from Guardian24 including inadvertent time overruns routinely via simple reports sent promptly by email. The system can also be interrogated by a system administrator in the Council to obtain reports on usage, for example, to see if any trends are emerging.