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Now more than ever, people are working alone or remotely, and there are new hazards to consider

A few weeks ago, your workplace may have been a bustling skyscraper, a cool coworking space or a second-floor office flooded with natural light and surrounded by crows (but maybe that’s just us). Now our homes have become our workspaces, and while the commute is faster, there are plenty of new challenges—home office setups, video chatting, stepping on Lego blocks—that employees must face alone. We spoke with Kyle Touhey, Chief Product Officer of Vancouver-based Tsunami Solutions, about what employers can do to make sure their staff stay safe while working remotely. 

Tsunami Solutions runs a lone worker check-in monitoring and emergency notification service that operates as SafetyLine in Canada and Scatterling in the U.S. Oil and gas companies and services businesses usually use SafetyLine, but lately, more health-care workers and regular office folks like us are turning to the software. “We automate what companies have been doing already, which is taking care of their people and making sure they’re in contact,” Touhey says.

With SafetyLine, workers check in at designated times throughout their shift; if they don’t check in, the cloud service tries to contact them and notifies defined monitors if they can’t be reached. Here are some steps you can take to limit hazards in your new workplace—and if you want to use SafetyLine, it’s now free to new subscribers working in health care and 50-percent off for all other organizations impacted by COVID-19.

1. Complete a hazard assessment

SafetyLine has a free hazard assessment guide on its website that takes you through all the steps. “You have to go back to the drawing board and reassess what the considerations are, but that doesn’t need to be a huge task,” Touhey says. The online guide involves steps like organizing your assessment by geography or position rank, listing work activity for each location or worker position and identifying the hazards of each work activity. “Hazards are going to be different because the workplace has changed,” Touhey notes.

2. Be proactive

“Next, try to instill whatever proactive measures you can to minimize those hazards,” Touhey says. Remember to log all of the hazards and the proactive measures you have taken. Precautions are particularly important during this pandemic, Touhey stresses, given that health-care workers are overwhelmed by COVID-19 and may take longer to respond to potential emergencies. You can find more information on developing a comprehensive lone worker policy on SafetyLine’s blog.

3. Make a plan

“In every job there is a possibility of an incident happening, so you need to determine how you’re going to handle that,” Touhey advises. Having a set emergency response procedure ensures that you’re not wasting time scrambling if a situation does arise. This is where software like SafetyLine can be helpful—an automatic check-in and notifying service simplifies that process. Having a solid communication plan, automated or not, is paramount to ensuring the safety of your workers. “It doesn’t have to take long, but it’s important that you do something instead of waiting for there to be an incident—because now the consequences are much much higher,” Touhey says.