Your Drivers’ Safety: Why Telematics Solutions Are Not Enough

When considering lone worker safety solutions, there are a plethora of options that suit different industries and areas of activity. 

Specifically for logistics companies, food production companies, or any other organisation with workers engaged in transportation, employers need to consider both the tracking and location of vehicles, as well as the safety and security of workers in and out of the vehicles in question.

As a manager or owner of a company with its own fleet, you may be thinking: “I have a vehicle telematics solution. Do I need a lone worker safety solution?”

The short answer is yes: firstly, because of the difference between tracking and protecting your fleet vs your workers; secondly, because of the inherent inability of a vehicle telematics solution to advise on what is happening with the workers once they exit the vehicle and are on different external sites.

In this article, we will address:

  • What are vehicle telematics solutions and lone worker safety solutions, and the critical differences between them;
  • The key limitations of vehicle telematics solutions on ensuring workers’ safety specifically;
  • Why logistics companies with their own fleet need a lone worker safety solution. 

Vehicle telematics solutions and lone worker safety solutions

As you will already know from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and its subsequent updates, employers have a “duty of care” towards their workers. While employers need to take measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of the people who work for them and in their premises, the practical application of these principles becomes more complex in specific scenarios. 

In the case of logistics companies, food production companies, or other types of organisations that also run their own vehicle fleet, you are required to look after workers not just on your premises, but also as they move around the country.

This is where a dual challenge arises: the safety and wellbeing of workers as drivers, on the one hand, and as lone workers, on the other hand. You will have most often already taken the first step towards meeting your obligations by equipping your fleet with a vehicle telematics solution.

Telematics is the joining of two sciences - telecommunications and informatics. The result is wireless devices and “black box” technologies, which collect and transmit data on vehicle use, maintenance requirements and automotive servicing. 

At its core, telematics offers a great resource for any company with a fleet of vehicles, allowing you to know at any point in time where your vehicles are, how well they are being driven, and what maintenance requirements may arise. 

The safety application of telematics solutions involves the ability to monitor the speed and location of vehicles, as well as any harsh driving events such as collisions or sudden braking. 

Consequently, a telematics solution can track your logistics fleet and identify reckless driving from your workers. However, what happens once the driver is outside of the vehicle?

Unlike a telematics solution, lone worker safety solutions are designed to allow workers the ability to trigger an alarm the moment they find themselves in any type of difficult situation. 

For example, a Man Down alarm enables workers to let your headquarters know if they’ve fallen (in any location) or been rendered immobile by an event. Lone worker safety solutions empower employees to highlight dangerous situations, ask for help, or be tracked in case something should happen to them and they are rendered unable to communicate. 

Why is a telematics solution insufficient for ensuring lone workers’ safety?

Vehicle telematics solutions are great for tracking down logistics fleets, ensuring the vehicle’s safety and the safe driving of your employees. Thanks to their recording capabilities, you can also use a telematics solution to draw information on how your workers drive and transfer this into any defensive driving courses to support their safety even further from this perspective.

However, telematics solutions do not guarantee lone workers’ safety at all times, as they cannot paint the complete picture of an employee’s day out of the office. 

Once they leave the vehicle, fleet drivers will be working on other companies’ premises, loading and unloading inventory, or simply stopping for comfort breaks. In all these scenarios, they would be unable to communicate with your central office, should something occur that puts them in danger.

Moreover, if you don’t give workers an option to trigger an alert in the event of a Man Down scenario, you are technically not fulfilling your safety obligations to your staff. 

Why fleet operating companies need to add a lone worker solution  

To ensure you comply with all your duty of care obligations when your staff are out travelling, as a logistics company, it is strongly advised to equip them with lone worker safety solutions such as a Man Down alarm to ensure that workers can trigger an alarm in potentially dangerous situations. 

You might think that your workers are low-risk because of their training, years of experience or working environment (for example, food production companies delivering food items to warehouses may be expected to be relatively safe from one point to another). However, as a lone worker in any transport-related activity, your workers are subjected to a number of risks:

Accidents

Any driver can run the risk of getting into an accident. A telematics solution can alert your central headquarters that a vehicle has stopped abruptly, or that it has been stationary in an unusual location. However, it cannot let staff in the office know if the driver has been injured, if they are able to leave the vehicle, or any other potentially life-saving details. With a lone worker alarm, assuming they are conscious, drivers can let others know they need help. 

Breakdowns

Less advanced telematics solutions will not be able to alert the office if a vehicle has broken down. Even if they did, the circumstances of a breakdown can endanger a lone worker, for example at night or in remote locations. It is therefore imperative that they are able to signal this and request help. A lone worker safety solution makes this simple and gives drivers the peace of mind to know that they will be able to get in touch with someone in these scenarios.

Dangers from other people

As your fleet drivers travel, they can end up in dangerous circumstances by virtue of speaking to other people at stops or even being targeted by robberies or muggings. The simple fact that they are in a vehicle doesn’t mean they will not need to exit it regularly, putting themselves in danger from other people. A vehicle telematics system has no way to alert you when this sort of situation occurs.

Fatigue and/or illness

Finally, drivers may feel unwell while behind the wheel or during their stops. If they feel unsafe to continue their journey, or need to stop for longer periods of time for any reason, having a lone worker solution in place will allow them to safely communicate this and to organise alternative ways to proceed if they need to stop. 

Next steps for keeping your fleet drivers safe

Given the limitations of a telematics solution when it comes to ensuring the safety of your workers in all situations, choosing a viable solution becomes imperative. There are a number of steps you can take to pick the best option for you:

  • Conduct a risk assessment that will highlight all the areas in which lone workers need support in your organisation. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to do so here.
  • Review available resources with our Buyer’s Guide to Lone Working Safety Solutions.
  • Request a demo to understand how our Protector can benefit your team in real life.
  • Train out all the measures to your staff and ensure they are familiar with all the options available to them when travelling.
  • Conduct regular reviews of what is working well and what isn’t, and adjust your practices as necessary.

Having a high-quality vehicle telematics solution is just the first step towards ensuring the safety and security of your fleet. While this solution enables you to assess the driving style of your workers and to keep a watchful eye on your fleet of vehicles, to truly guarantee peace of mind and a good hazard response, a lone worker solution is a must-have for logistics companies.

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