As digital and two-way radios become more and more vital for teams across a variety of organisations, the work carried out can differ. Often, employees can find themselves working independently or even on-site alone. Two-way and digital radios are designed to keep both staff and visitors safe.
The purpose of a lone worker device is for your employer to keep you safe within a team, as well as the staff who work alone. As there are more and exclusive risks with working alone, the lone worker device is an essential tool to keep you away from these risks.
What is a Lone Worker Device?
A lone worker safety device is a discreet and undetectable tool which allows for communication with employers and emergency services.
The devices themselves are usually radio systems such as two-way walkie talkie, but can also be much more discreet devices in the form of an earpiece or an app.
Lone Worker Safety
Within your team or organisation, working alone is completely legal and is usually safe to do so. Your company should have carried out a risk assessment before placing you in a situation where you would be working independently.
For an idea of what you need for your business or site, read our blog on lone worker radio systems for construction workers, here.
Lone Worker Function
The Lone Worker function, also known as a Lone Worker Alarm is designed with solo workers in mind. It is an efficient, simple and quick way of ensuring the safety of workers throughout the working day. This function will provide managers and supervisors with regular updates on their wellbeing and the smooth running of their work. This will give both workers, supervisors and visitors peace of mind that their safety is cared for and monitored.
Lone worker devices feature the Man Down function, a great way of alerting supervisors on the safety of workers. The mission sensor sends an alarm to supervisors when:
The radio holder is moving more than what is considered the usual amount for the job at hand
The radio is completely stationary
The radio is positioned at an unusual angle for a longer period of time.
Most digital radios have the ability to be updated with lone worker functions. Get in touch with one of our experts during set up for any guidance you need. Learn more about lone worker function here, in our recent blog.
At Wall to Wall Communications we have been working with two way radios for over 40 years. During our time working with two way radios we have found that one of the most frequent questions we get is ‘how do I boost my two way radio signal?. Getting a radio signal that is reliable, efficient, can penetrate obstacles and can still send clear messages to other radio users far away can seem hard to obtain. We also know that having good radio signal is imperative to the running of your business. Not only does reliable communication boost efficiency and productivity, but also safety and security as well. This is why we have written a guide to help you find the right solution for your two way radio problem, including leaky feeders, POC technology, installing an antenna or simply changing the battery.
At Wall to Wall we recommend that you scrap your old radio battery every 18-24 months and replace it with a new one. This will be the first thing to check if you are experiencing poor signal coverage. If you have not replaced your two way radio battery over a longer period than this, you can experience poor coverage, conversations being cut short mid-transmission and unclear communication. By using a radio with a battery that isn’t fully charged, the power rapidly decreases, inhibiting its ability to send and receive radio signals.
If you and your business are experiencing issues with your radio signal reaching areas that are located along shafts, tunnels or underground, a leaky feeder cable will give you the signal boost you’ve been looking for. A leaky feeder is a cable that, unlike a normal feeder cable, is designed to ‘leak’ signal out in a controlled manner as well as allowing signal to penetrate the cable as well. A leaky feeder allows signal to reach areas where it would not have otherwise reached, effectively behaving like a long antenna for radios.
Radio signals can in fact travel around obstacles and through them, but this does however drastically affect the strength of the radio signal. If you are finding that you and your employees are dropping out of signal range when straying too far afield, or perhaps your business is located in a built up area, it may be time to install a repeater. A repeater essentially receives radio signals and re-transmits or ‘repeats’ them, giving your radios the power to reach a wider range. A repeater usually instals their antennas in a high and central location to bypass tall buildings and hilly landscapes. This will give your radio signals a clear and powerful boost.
If you and your business require a communication method that reaches a long distance, perhaps spanning the country, installing multiple leaky feeders and antennas can be costly and may still not achieve the coverage you need. In these instances, for businesses such as couriers, taxis and transportation, switching to a POC (Push To Talk Over Cellular) radio may be the solution you have been looking for.
Instead of communicating using radio waves, a POC radio instead utilised the mobile data network (3G, 4G, 5G) and WIFI signal to send and receive messages. Now that the mobile data network has become faster and more reliable than ever, POC radios have risen in popularity. This is mainly due to the fact that users of these radios are not limited to staying within a particular signal range, but instead have the freedom to communicate wherever there is mobile data or WIFI signal. So if you are a business that is expanding and requires a boost to your signal range, POC technology might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.
At Wall to Wall we know that fast, clear and reliable communication is extremely important in the running of your business. Particularly when trying to communicate in a time sensitive or emergency situation, any interruption in relaying messages can have devastating effects. So what can you do if you are experiencing two way radio interference?
What is two way radio interference?
Two way radio interference is when users can hear any additional noises or other conversations whilst using the radio. Whilst hearing other conversations can lead you to being more well informed, unsolicited interruptions can be dangerous in an emergency situation, or just simply a nuisance! In addition to this, two way radio interference can go both ways, if you can hear other conversations over the radio, other radios can hear your conversation too. This can lead to confidential information being relayed to the wrong people. So, if you are a business that requires uninterrupted radio transmissions, then here are a few ways you can do this…
How can you stop two way radio interference?
Get an OFCOM licence
One of the main drawbacks of using unlicensed radios is that they share a frequency with other unlicensed radio users, this inevitably leads to two way radio interference. This issue is particularly prominent in built-up areas such as large cities where there are many competing radio users all trying to communicate at the same time. If you require a secure and uninterrupted frequency with no interference then you should seek to purchase a licence from the Office of Communication (OFCOM). OFCOM is in charge of enforcing, protecting and managing the radio spectrum. Once you have obtained a licensed radio, you will have clear and uninterrupted frequencies.
Use POC two way radios
Trying to obtain a licence from OFCOM is not always easy, especially in densely populated areas where many radio users are also trying to secure an uninterrupted radio frequency. POC technology however does not use radio waves to communicate and eliminates the need to obtain a license.
POC stands for PTT (Push to Talk) Over Cellular. Instead of using the traditional radio waves, the radios use the mobile data network (3G, 4G, 5G) or WIFI signal to communicate. This means there is no two way radio interference and no need for an OFCOM licence! Other benefits of POC technology include unlimited distance. Learn more by reading our How PTT Over Cellular (POC) Is Making New Waves blog post.
Noise cancelling function
If your two way radio interference isn’t coming from other radio users, but from surrounding noises, e.g. at a music festival, event or in busy areas, then there are ways Wall to Wall can help here too! When communicating with lots of background noises, messages can be hard to understand and cause difficulty in communication. This in turn can lead to inefficiency and even inhibit response time in emergency situations.
At Wall to Wall Communications we offer radios with noise cancelling functions that mean even in the noisiest situations, messages can be sent and received in a clear and understandable way by cancelling out background noises.
Digital two way radios are a vital tool for keeping members of staff in constant communication. Even when working in a large team, employees may find themselves working alone. In some industries, workers may find themselves working in remote locations without direct supervision. In these situations there is usually no other workers around to provide risk assessments or to help in an emergency situation. In these instances, two way radios can become much more than communication devices, but an important device that ensures workers safety. The additional functions that can be added to some radios are the Lone Worker and Man Down functions that turn these communication devices into potentially life saving tools.
What is Lone Worker function?
The Lone Worker function, also known as Lone Worker Alarm is a quick, simple and efficient method of ensuring all workers safety. This function allows for supervisors to get updates on the workers safety at regular intervals. At a selected time interval the worker’s radio will beep, prompting the worker to press the push-to-talk button to signify they are safe and well. However, if the worker does not press the push-to-talk button within a certain time period when promoted, an alarm will be sent to their supervisor to alert them of their emergency status.
Which radios can support the Lone Worker function?
The answer is most digital two way radios. However, the Lone Worker function would need to be set up by your radio supplier when radio programming.
Man Down Functions
The Man Down function is another fast and efficient way of alerting supervisors on the safety of the workers. This function works through using a tilt-switch which is effectively a motion sensor. The motion sensor sends an alarm to supervisors when:
The radio holder is moving more than what is considered normal for their job
The radio user is not moving at all
The radio user is positioned in an unusual angle for a period of time
To prevent false alarms and to compensate for the tilt-switch picking up on non-emergency situations, the two way radio will send an alert to the radio holder to signify that the alarm will be sent out to the supervisors. This gives the radio holder the option to disarm the alert if no assistance is required.
Another benefit of the Man Down function is that it can sometimes be configured to automatically open the mic and communicate what is happening in the radio’s surroundings to other radio users. This can be vital in an emergency situation when a worker needs to talk to other workers, but is unable to use the push-to-talk button.
Which radios can support the Man Down function?
The man down function generally is only supported by middle to high tier digital two way radios. .
Using these functions not only gives the workers peace of mind that their safety is being monitored even when they are working alone, but it also mitigates HSE fines by showing that the business is taking precautions to keep their employees safe.
At Wall to Wall Communications we have have been working with two way radios for over 40 years. Their use in industries such as Construction,Events,Security,Hospitality Leisure,Auction Houses,Transportation,Retailers,Film Production,BanksorHospitals has helped to improve communication amongst staff which therefore increase efficiency, security and safety. However, with industries such as security being faced with confrontational situations on a regular basis, improved communication is not always sufficient enough to keep members of staff and the public safe. In addition to this, when confrontational situations arise there is not usually evidence to prosecute. This gap in the market has given rise to body cameras.
But what are body cameras?
A body camera, also known as ‘body-worn cameras’ is a small camera that is attached to the body that can be left running for the purpose of recording any interactions or incidences during working hours.
Why do staff wear body cameras?
Provides admissible evidence for courts: Typically incidences that occur at work are taken to court with only verbal testimonies and eye witness accounts. With body-worn cameras there is hard, factual and admissible evidence that can be used in court to ensure accurate accounts of the situation is relayed.
Used for training and review purposes: Recordings of situations and work related issues can be reviewed and used for training purposes. In turn this will increase productivity, efficiency and competence.
Decreases the likelihood of incidences: As well as ensuring incidences that do occur are accurately dealt with, body-worn cameras can actually decrease the likelihood of confrontations happening in the first place. When members of staff are wearing a visible body-worn camera, there is less likely to be an incident, with the presence of the camera acting as a visible deterrent.
Reduction in false accusations: In some industries, particularly the police, there are often false accusations made against the staff and/or member of the public for one reason or another. Wearing body cameras not only decreases the number of people making these false accusations, but false accusations can also be solved quickly and reliably with factual evidence.
Which industries could benefit from body cameras?
The rise in popularity of body cameras are mainly due to staff members and industries that have frequent contact with the public and that have high prevalence of either staff assault or accusations against staff. These industries can include door staff, security, blue light services etc. The use of body cameras can be applied to any company that feels they would benefit from their presence.