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Kept in the Dark: Are Partial Mobile Not-spots Damaging Your Risk Assessment?

Posted by Sarah Ennett on Nov 17, 2015 10:01:38 AM

If your lone and mobile workers rely on constant network coverage to maintain contact, not-spots become more than a frustration. Lost connectivity means lost contact – and in some cases, serious risk. Discover how mobile not-spots could be damaging your risk assessment and the steps to take to keep the HSE from knocking at your door.

Are partial mobile not-spots damaging your risk assessment?

Have you ever had to go outside because you can’t get a phone signal? Had to wait until you’ve driven to the next town for an email to load? Or even missed out on an important call because you had no reception? You’re not alone. Almost a third of the UK in terms of landmass remains a mobile “not-spot” – the term used when one or more mobile network operators is unavailable.

A five-step risk assessment

If you have mobile or lone workers among your workforce, you should be aware of the impact that not-spots can have on health and safety procedures.

Employers are obliged by law – the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – to identify, consider and deal with any potential health and safety risk to their employees in the form of a risk assessment; and that applies whether they work at a desk, on the road, up a telegraph pole or in people’s homes.

To make things easier, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has introduced a simple, five-step risk assessment. It states that employers should:

  1. Identify any potential hazards

  2. Decide who might be harmed and how

  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

  4. Record your findings, develop an action plan, and communicate it to employees

  5. Review your assessment regularly and update if necessary

For a growing number of mobile workers in the UK, the principle requirements of workplace health and safety do not change. For many field-based industries though, like the emergency services, domiciliary care, and the utilities sector, the risks inevitably do – especially when compared to office workers.

Record findings, develop an action plan, communicate

In all of these sectors and more, it is vitally important for employers and employees to follow the action plan noted in point four of the HSE’s five-step risk assessment. This could include specific training and supervision to prevent single person operations or telephone contact at regular and/or agreed times. If any of those things don’t happen – for whatever reason – it could be a breach of health and safety legislation.

With all of this in mind, it becomes clear how partial not-spots could be putting your health and safety procedures in jeopardy.

Not-spots can affect a particular building, environment or geographical location. According to Ofcom’s 2014 Infrastructure Report, partial not-spots make up 21% of the UK’s landmass. Complete not-spots, where no mobile coverage is available, make up 11%.

This means in nearly a third of the UK, it is not possible to make a phone call through one or more of the major network providers. The issue is not just restricted to rural areas too – even parts of central London are still subject to partial not-spots.

If your mobile workers rely on a mobile network to maintain contact, a not-spot becomes more than a simple inconvenience. Lost connectivity means lost contact, potentially putting that employee at risk.

Stay connected, reduce the risk

Alternative technologies such as Strongest Signal Mobile (SSM) minimise the risk of failure through lost connectivity.

Providing the highest level of mobile coverage, it switches to the strongest signal when one or more operators in the UK are unavailable. It can reduce the risk of failure in monitoring and supervision procedures such as on-call systems, emergency alert systems and tracking equipment.

In doing so it can reduce the potential damage to your risk assessments and prevent a serious breach of health and safety regulations. Your employees won’t be left out of service – and neither will you.

Takeaways:

  • Almost a third of the UK in terms of landmass remains a mobile “not-spot
  • According to Ofcom, partial not-spots make up 21% of the UK’s landmass; complete not-spots, where no mobile coverage is available, make up 11%
  • The issue is not just restricted to rural areas – even parts of central London are still subject to partial not-spots
  • If you have mobile or lone workers, you should be aware of the impact not-spots can have on health and safety procedures
  • If your mobile and lone workers rely on network coverage, then not-spots can seriously hamper your health and safety assessment
  • Lost connectivity for mobile and lone workers places them at risk and  could breach health and safety legislation

Discover how you can reduce the risk to your mobile workers and your business’ health and safety record by eliminating mobile not-spots. Download: Saying no to not-spots: using technology to ensure the safety of your mobile workforce.

Saying no to not-spots: using technology to ensure the safety of your mobile workforce