Tech offers solutions to keep workers safe

Worker safety app

With the latest SGF and ACS crime reports highlighting the growing problem of abuse of shopworkers, a number of tech solutions offer affordable ways of looking after your team in-store.

It’s hard to miss the horrendous impact that verbal and physical abuse has on shopworkers across the country and the latest SGF and ACS Crime Reports seem to very clearly indicate that, far from getting better, the problem may actually be getting worse. In the constant struggle against retail crime it is vital that Scotland’s retailers leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding affordable solutions that can help mitigate the impact for their staff.

One of the major challenges that faces the industry is lone workers. With costs rising steadily and the national minimum wage rising yet again this month, many retailers have no choice but to have a single member of staff on at certain periods during the week. While this is recognised as being unwise and potentially dangerous, the fact remains that the economics of running a retail business these days mean that many stores simply have no choice.

Lone worker solution

One company supporting clients in the retail sector to ensure the safety of lone workers is Safe Shores Monitoring. The company’s lone worker technology has been developed over the last 20 years and offers retailers an affordable, practical way of ensuring the safety of their staff. Safe Shore Monitoring CEO Tom Morton says:  “The BRC/SRC annual retail crime survey reports a number of harrowing examples of situations that highlight the growing problem of attacks on retail staff.

“Current market conditions mean retailers are finding it harder to make ends meet, and with fewer staff on the shop floor, sadly this means they are more vulnerable to this rise in crime and need to find cost effective security solutions.”

Once such solution is Safe Shores Monitoring’s Companion app which turns any smart device into an affordable and discreet personal safety alarm which can be linked to a central control room. A wireless SOS button can also be deployed throughout the building and carried by individual staff. The Companion app operates across mobile and WiFi networks to open a 2-way audio link when SOS is activated, enabling staff to access a high level of protection when working, locking up or carrying cash.

Morton says: “According to the survey, a large proportion of victims of retail crime found police response to be poor. This is mainly because police forces face difficult resourcing issues themselves. Our system supports the workers, the employer, and law enforcement.”

The Safe Shores Monitoring Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) provides a ‘Police Preferred Specification’ service which means their highly-trained staff can provide verified crime alerts to police control rooms directly when users signal need for help.

“Safe Shores Monitoring is certified so that it can bypass the 999 system to ensure rapid response,” explains Morton. “This, combined with the system’s location services and its ability to connect to in-store CCTV, actually supports law enforcement to act rapidly and secure a conviction where required.”

The Companion app also contains an advanced fall detection sensor, an effective alert system when isolated retail staff experience accidents.

Morton concludes: “Stopping this rise in threats and attacks on retail staff is a massive challenge that needs to be addressed through multiple approaches. Deployment of solutions such as Companion help to act as a deterrent and support moves to secure stiffer penalties for those who assault shop workers. When linked to police certified response centres, these solutions enable rapid response, delivers peace of mind and improves the well-being of under-siege retail industry staff.”

On the road solution

Send For Help device

Send For Help has revealed that the number of safety devices used by UK transport and logistics firms rose by 280% in the year up to December 2018.

“We’re seeing that an increasing number of companies are realising the importance of protecting drivers against attack or injury, not just the vehicle and stock,” says Paul Watson, Sales Director for Send for Help. “They have a responsibility for their Duty of Care to staff, and are increasingly looking for solutions to achieve this.”

Send for Help produces key-fob sized GPS safety devices that drivers can always carry with them. The company has direct links to police control rooms, so it can bypass the 999 system and receive a faster emergency response if clients are in danger.

Once the ‘SOS alarm’ button on the device is pressed, a user can speak to a controller at Send For Help’s fortified alarm receiving centre, who will act according to the user’s specified escalation plan – whether that’s calling an ambulance, alerting the police, asking the worker’s supervisor to check in on them, or just confirming a false alarm.

The device sends its GPS location to the monitoring centre, so operators can direct help to where it’s needed — even if users are on the move. End users or their managers can specify how they want alarms managed and provide relevant personal information via a 24/7 online portal.

“Retailers recognise the advantages of personnel protection when they look at the implications of legal costs and compensation as well as bad publicity if someone gets injured or assaulted,” adds Watson.

Clients typically pay a £10 monthly fee for each device.

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