In this guide, learn how to effectively and efficiently protect your workers with regular safety check-ins.
Published 16 Jun 2023
A safety check-in is the practice of a responsible party (such as a safety manager) periodically monitoring and verifying the status of an employee's safety and well-being. Safety check-ins can be carried out manually (i.e. via phone calls) or automatically (i.e. via a lone worker safety solution's automated check-in feature).
When your employees are working alone or in isolation, how do you know that they are safe? From providing peace of mind, to ensuring that employees receive emergency assistance as soon as they need it, conducting regular safety check-ins is a key, non-negotiable way to protect your lone workers.
In this guide, you’ll discover why your organization must implement periodic safety check-ins, along with how to conduct them effectively and efficiently.
The primary purpose of a safety check-in is to keep in regular contact with a lone-working employee, to determine whether they are safe or in need of emergency assistance.
When an employee checks-in on time, it typically means that they are okay. But when an employee fails to check-in, it may mean that further investigation is required to ascertain whether the employee is okay, or that emergency escalation is required to provide them with immediate assistance. (Responses to failed check-ins should vary, based on the predetermined risk levels of employees’ roles, work environments, etc.)
In addition to ensuring employee safety, there are four more reasons why safety check-ins are a necessary part of every organization’s lone worker safety policy.
Safety check-ins can protect employees from a myriad of safety hazards and emergency situations. Here’s how.
Working alone, without direct supervision or back-up support, is a high-risk activity in and of itself. But there are also many safety hazards that lone workers face on a daily basis. Some of the most common lone-working safety hazards include:
Conducting frequent, periodic safety check-ins to confirm that workers are safe and sound protects against the hazards of working alone.
Learn more about lone-working safety hazards and how to mitigate them here.
If an employee fails to check in at the scheduled time, it could be because an incident has occurred and they need assistance. If an extensive amount of time has lapsed (15-30 minutes, for example), and the employee still has not checked in, management can escalate the situation, according to their organization’s safety policy and the employee’s risk profile.
An emergency escalation process, based on a missed check-in, could look like calling the employee, sending a colleague to the employee’s physical location to check on them, requesting assistance from emergency services, and so on.
In addition to a check-in process, consider that lone-working employees should have a way to raise a panic/duress, alerting managers and/or colleagues that something has gone wrong and they require immediate assistance.
What good is it to find out that an employee is in trouble if you don’t know where they are and what they were doing?
Effective safety check-ins share key information that can be helpful in an emergency, such as: the employee’s exact location (physical address and GPS coordinates), location notes (i.e. which building level and/or which unit, which part of a job site, etc.), what the employee was working on (i.e. visiting a patient’s home, inspecting the inside of a silo, etc.).
Periodic check-ins help keep employees and managers stay connected, and therefore, on the same page.
A common check-in practice is for employees to let managers know if their work is going to take longer than expected. With this understanding, managers do not need to wonder whether an incident has occurred.
While most countries have worker safety laws and regulations that employers must abide by to keep employees safe, some countries (such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom) have issued legislation or guidelines specifically for safeguarding lone workers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 1915.84, “whenever an employee is working alone . . . the employer shall account for each employee: throughout each workshift at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment to ensure the employee’s safety and health; and at the end of the job assignment or at the end of the workshift, whichever occurs first.”
According to ComCare, “Good practice for managing remote workers includes having a schedule of regular phone calls from the worker to someone who is in a position to raise an alarm if the worker fails to phone in. A policy or work instruction on frequency of calls, the number to call, and the action to be taken if the call is not received, should be developed and provided to all relevant workers . . . Satellite tracking systems or devices may also have the capability of sending messages as part of a scheduled call-in system, and have distress or alert functions.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, “You must monitor your lone workers and keep in touch with them. Make sure they understand any monitoring system and procedures you use. These may include: when supervisors should visit and observe lone workers; knowing where lone workers are, with pre-agreed intervals of regular contact, using phones, radios, email etc.; other devices for raising the alarm, operated manually or automatically; a reliable system to ensure a lone worker has returned to their base once they have completed their task.”
It’s important to thoroughly research and understand the workplace safety legislation in your organization’s country and region to ensure compliance. In some instances, heavy fines, and even prison time, can result from non-compliance when health and safety incidents occur.
Conducting regular safety check-ins creates a safety culture, helping employees to feel safe and secure as they work alone; meanwhile, managers can feel confident that their employees will get home safely.
Jeremy B., the Community Rehabilitation Manager of a large healthcare organization called Epworth Healthcare, uses a lone worker safety solution called SHEQSY to safeguard and manage lone workers. He states: Employees report that they feel much more secure knowing that they have SHEQSY monitoring their sessions. As a manager, I find it much easier to track the productivity and safety of my employees when working in the community.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
Ideally, organizations would have safety check-in protocols for all employees who work alone, in isolation, or in remote locations. However, here are some examples of particularly high-risk workers that require them:
Phone calls, text messages, and emails are manual safety check-in methods – and are therefore outdated, ineffective, and, potentially, dangerous.
Automating safety check-ins with lone worker smartphone apps and lone worker devices (such as panic buttons and satellite devices) is the way forward. Why?
Firstly, automation helps ensure that no employee’s safety or well-being falls through the cracks. Automated periodic check-in prompts remind employees to check in when they’re supposed to. (This removes the need for managers to remember to call/text/email employees on time, and then try to contact them one by one.) Meanwhile, notifications of failed check-ins and panic notifications reach pre-designated emergency contacts immediately so they can assist accordingly.
Of course, this technology also saves organizations valuable resources: time, money, and focus. With a digital lone worker solution, lone workers and managers no longer have to play “phone tag” to get in touch. Instead, employees can check-in at the simple touch of a button, and managers are only notified as necessary.
SHEQSY makes lone worker safety easy. See how, in 90 seconds:
From in-person meetings to text messages to automated check-in smartphone notifications, there are various ways to conduct an employee check-in. However, some methods are better than others, especially those that deploy technology to make the employee safety check-in process easier, more effective, and more efficient. For employees who work alone, in isolation, or in remote locations, the best way to check-in with them is via a lone worker app.
Why? A lone worker app can automatically trigger check-in prompts, at regular intervals, for employees to confirm their well-being. When employees miss a check-in, or if they activate panic mode, managers can be notified immediately so that they can physically check-in on the employee or deploy emergency services. SHEQSY is the leading lone worker safety app that provides a suite of intuitive safety features, from periodic safety check-ins and panic alarms, to emergency roll calls, hazard reporting, and real-time location sharing.
In the workplace, many different types of rigorous safety checks should be conducted. Using safety checklists and audit forms can help ensure that workplaces, equipment, and methods of work are safe – and identify if there are any safety hazards. SafetyCulture is a must-have tool for conducting inspections, capturing issues, and managing safety-related tasks. Regular safety check-ins should also be conducted to make sure that employees are safe at work. Third parties that are responsible for employees’ safety (such as managers) should check-in on employees periodically; this provides peace of mind and ensures that emergency assistance is available when needed. Digital safety solutions, such as SHEQSY, can automate employee safety check-ins and emergency notifications, streamlining what can otherwise be a tedious process.
Streamline safety check-ins and stay connected to at-risk employees with SHEQSY, the leading lone worker safety app.
SHEQSY is easily deployed via SHEQSY's smartphone app (for iOS and Android), and integrated Bluetooth wearables (for discreet check-in and panic activation) and handheld satellite devices (for no-cell-service areas). With intuitive safeguards such as real-time location sharing, periodic check-ins, quick panic/duress activation, hazard and incident reports, and safety audit forms and checklists, employees can work alone safely and confidently.
Meanwhile, organizations can monitor, manage, and report on lone workers in real-time. Via the SHEQSY Dashboard, managers can view employees' locations in real-time with activity countdown timers, manage duress events, request emergency roll calls, schedule appointments, run detailed reports, and more. When an employee activates their duress or fails to check-in, a customizable, pre-configured escalation tree begins, sending automated notifications (via phone calls, text messages, and emails) to the team member(s) or manager(s) responsible for the worker's safety.
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Maddy is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. She has worked as a digital marketer and copywriter in the risk management industry for more than a decade. When she’s not writing for SafetyCulture, Maddy runs a popular travel and food blog and enjoys snowboarding, practicing yoga, hiking, and spending time exploring outdoors.
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