BS 8484: The UK’s Lone Working Safety Standard

How do consumers know if a product or service is verified, reliable, and safe? The answer is accredited safety standards.

When it comes to lone working, the gold safety standard in the UK is the BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard. This article aims to help you understand more about the minimum safety standards the BS 8484 assures for your lone workers. 

Introduction to the BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard

The BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard was established in 2009 by the British Standards Institute (BSI), the UK’s national standard body in charge of developing British, European and international standards.

The first release, BS 8484:2009, was largely initiated when the general demand for lone worker protection increased in the mid-2000s. 

The standard lists stringent requirements of lone working devices and Alarm Response Centres so that lone workers can get the help they need during an emergency. 

Furthermore, BS 8484:2009 ensures that lone workers get the highest level of police response, which is Level 1. 

Level 1 police response is not normally available through the 999 or 101 systems. It is exclusively for those who need it in an emergency but cannot call 999 or 101 themselves. 

Before the police dispatch the resources to respond to a Level 1 emergency, they need credible verification that the request is genuine. Thus, BS 8484:2009 was introduced to reduce the number of Level 1 false alarms police were getting. 

Revisions to BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard

In 2011, the standard was revised with minor revisions and was updated to BS 8484: 2011. 

Then, to keep up with the pace of the rapid digitisation and new technology introduced in the lone working industry, the BSI put together a committee of industry experts to review the standard and propose updates. 

The resulting third version, BS 8484:2016, was a major revision released on 11 August 2016. The key sections updated include:

  • Improved self-certification process for lone working devices.
  • New standards for mobile phone lone working safety apps
  • Revised standards on customer considerations.
  • Revised standards on training for management and frontline lone workers.
  • New training and customer support standards so end-users know how to use the product or service during an emergency properly.

Regarding this revision, Craig Swallow, who is the Chairman of British Security Industry Association (BSIA) Lone Worker Section & Managing Director and Committee, said:

“The need for BS 8484 to help guide and advise employers of lone workers is more important now than ever. Its review throughout 2015/16 will lead to numerous useful improvements, taking input from the industry, the Police, audit bodies and others. BS 8484 is one of the principal reasons why false alarm management in the lone worker industry is well managed and the speed of escalation to Police via URN is so quick (when compared to 999). It’s a valuable resource for any employer seeking to remove the risks associated with operating with lone working staff”. 

BS 8484:2009 and BS 8484:2011 have since been withdrawn. To date, the BS 8484:2016 remains as the active published standard that acts as a code of practice to providers of lone working safety products and services.

What Does BS 8484:2016 Aim to Achieve?

BS 8484:2016 aims to be a gold standard benchmark for those who provide lone working safety products and services. 

This accredited safety standard intends to ensure that commercially available lone working safety products and services are safe to use according to stringent measures and verified as genuine, while still being enforceable by law if necessary.

Ultimately, the aim of BS 8484:2016 is to ensure the high quality of lone working safety products and services. The accreditation also gives employers peace of mind that their lone workers will receive the timely help they need during an emergency. 

Why is it critical to ensure lone workers receive an accredited assurance for their protection and safety? It’s because lone workers are a vulnerable segment of the workforce. After all, there are no team members within sight or hearing range to assist them if an accident or emergency happens. 

With an estimated 8 million people across the UK that can be defined as a lone worker, which is about 1 in every 4 people of the 31.2 million UK working population, the BS 8484:2016 thus creates a safety benchmark to protect this large segment of the working force.

What are the Key Elements of the Standard?

Below are the highlights of the key elements outlined in BS 8484:2016. 

Section 4: Business Requirements 

The company that supplies lone working safety products and services must:

  • Have a clear management structure;
  • Demonstrate control and accountability at every level of the organisation;
  • Be financially stable and adequately insured;
  • Have a transparent privacy and data policy;
  • Elements of the product or service must be clearly stated in client contracts; and
  • Maintain a log of all events relevant to auditor inspections.

Section 5: Lone Working Devices & Apps

All lone working devices and apps must:

  • Provide an accurate location of the lone worker;
  • Have a discreet alarm that can be activated;
  • Have a two-way communication system with the assigned response team, whether an in-house team or with a partner ARC;
  • Be able to provide Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) with the data they require for emergencies; and
  • Be able to report battery and signal status to ARCs.

Documentation and training of lone working devices and apps must:

  • Clearly state what functions they provide;
  • Clearly state the level of risk management they provide; and
  • Demonstrate how the different functions serve different categories of lone workers.

Section 6: Training & Support

The company that supplies lone working safety products and services must:

  • Provide effective training, so their clients (frontline workers and management level) know how to use lone working devices, apps, and their supporting systems;
  • Ensure that lone workers know how to operate lone working devices or apps as the bare minimum standard of training;
  • Provide supporting systems and management tools such as email support and regular reports; and
  • Train their staff to be able to serve their clients’ training requirements adequately.

Section 7: Alarm Receiving Centres

Alarm Receiving Centres must comply with the following standards: 

  • A mandatory response time to incoming alerts of 10 seconds for 80% of occasions;
  • Follow the detailed measurements provided when timing critical points in the ARC Red Alert process;
  • Training of support and operational staff that meet the stipulated level of training outlined;
  • Quality operators must recognise the police policies for lone worker systems; and
  • Detailed processes that ensure accurate and effective escalation processes.

Section 8: SOS Alarms

The final section covers what providers and ARCs are required to do when an SOS alarm is raised. 

  • Suppliers of lone working safety products and services must ensure the response requirements comply with the policies and capabilities of the response team, whether it will be the client’s’ in-house or with an ARC they partner with; and
  • ARC or security companies providing lone worker response services must comply with BS 7984-2 standards.

Who Needs to Comply with the BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard?

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will only respond to Level 1 alarms for lone workers if the distress call comes from an ARC audited for and accredited with BS 8484:2016. ARCs, on the other hand, seek compliance of BS 8484:2016 from the companies they provide service to. 

This makes compliance vital for any company that wants to offer their clients lone working safety products and services that can be partnered with an accredited ARC. 

Security providers who want to provide lone working response services must also comply with the BS 8484 Lone Worker Standard. 

What are the Benefits of Working with BS 8484 Accredited Providers?

It is an employer’s responsibility to manage the safety risks of anyone that is legally defined as a lone worker, whether they’re working from home, a volunteer, or any other form of lone working.

For the employer, working with BS 8484 accredited providers ensures they meet their responsibility with the highest standards available on the market. Patrick Dealtry, Chairman of the BSI committee responsible for developing BS 8484, said:

“Lone worker services, combining lone working devices and ARCs, enable lone workers to transmit their location and be confident someone is working on their behalf to request assistance when they are in trouble. 

BS 8484 makes recommendations for this increasingly used service, which will establish best practice in helping employers to look after vulnerable staff.”

Best Practices to Protect Your Lone Workers

For more information on how your company can meet the best lone working safety standards, download our Ultimate Guide to Lone Working Safety for a complete checklist of best practices and resources.

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