worker safety

8 Reasons why 911 is not a solution to your lone worker safety problems

Discover why 911 is not an effective solution to your lone worker safety problems and how Aware360’s solutions are the answer.


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Anyone who works alone, outside of earshot with another person, with little or no direct supervision, or in remote locations is considered a lone or at-risk worker. Almost all industries rely on these workers to succeed; they often possess niche skills and can work in a variety of locations. Most lone workers perform essential duties that not only businesses, but society as a whole rely on. Whether they are equipment technicians and operators in remote locations, keeping critical infrastructure performing like clockwork, or paramedics addressing our most urgent needs at any time of the day, etc., looking after their overall health and wellbeing, is not only a responsibility employers have, but a debt they owe.

With improved cellular coverage around the world companies may be tempted to consider utilizing direct-to-911 as a solution to provide safety for their workers. However, while 911 can certainly be a useful resource, it is not a comprehensive solution to a lone worker safety program. In this blog post, we will discuss why using 911 as a primary safety solution is insufficient and how dedicated lone worker safety solutions can help improve the safety of your lone workers.

1. 911 is not an enterprise tool

911 is not an enterprise tool, it’s a response to an individual request. Your organization is not notified of an employee’s 911 call and depending on the nature of the emergency, you may never know. This impairs the ability of the company to understand the risks employees are facing, take preventative measures for the employee, perform post event analysis, documentation, or safety enhancements for the workforce. With dedicated solutions, event-critical information can be cascaded in real time to designated recipients within your organization who need to be alerted (via email, SMS or other 3rd party endpoints), and you will be equipped to make better decisions, at the right time.

2. 911 does not ensure an immediate emergency response

With Aware360’s safety solutions, as soon as your employee presses the SOS button, our Monitoring Center knows the employee’s location, the device number, their cell phone number, company name, and contact information for the employee’s assigned manager, and can immediately dispatch emergency assistance to the employee’s location wherever they are.

Our solutions are designed to give the real-time location of workers as soon as an alert is triggered, so that accurate location information can be provided to emergency services even if the employee is moving, such as a car-jacking or other pursuit event. 911 on the other hand, has no effective way to locate the caller, which means any emergency response is likely to be delayed. Another factor that can contribute to delays in 911 response times is the availability of resources and staffing. Emergency services are often limited in certain areas or during certain times, making it more difficult to respond immediately to all calls. For example, this was the case in 2022 when there was a shortage of responders and dispatchers in the San Francisco area.

3. 911 can struggle to pinpoint the location of the caller

If your worker calls from a cell phone, 911 may not know where the worker is, despite most contemporary cell phones being equipped with GPS. 911 capabilities have local dependencies which means there is no way of tracking the location of the caller. Dispatch centers have to ask wireless carriers for the caller’s location information. However, this location information comes from a cell tower, which could put the caller miles away from where they actually are. This means that if the caller is unsure of their location or disorientated they may be unable to receive the necessary immediate response.

Many workers may feel as though these safety solutions and functionalities like GPS monitoring are an invasion of privacy, or simply a way for employers to track their workers. However, with Aware360’s privacy-by-design architecture employee location data will only be accessible when an alert is triggered. This will help maintain the safety of lone workers while also ensuring workers keep the privacy they value.

4. 911 does not follow customized actions plans

Aware360’s solutions customize an escalation plan tailored to each customer’s specifications, including instructions regarding how to handle specific situations, such as a dropped call (e.g., dispatch immediately or try to call the worker back before sending emergency responders). Unlike 911, our Monitoring Center will follow the organization’s designated escalation on ALL registered events.

5. 911 can only be used for emergencies

911 is only for emergencies. With solutions like Aware360, employees can maintain two-way communication with a 24/7 monitoring service. This means that if an employee is uneasy or feels unsafe for any reason, they can get in touch with a real person. When it comes to dialing 911 many workers might refuse, unless they feel that their situation is a true emergency, which can lead to many workers putting themselves at unnecessary risk. However, with a dedicated safety solution there is no need to hold off. Emergency or no emergency help is ready to be dispatched immediately.

6. 911 cannot be called when worker is incapacitated 

Dialing 911 may be impossible in a high stress situation or in a situation where a worker becomes physically incapacitated by the emergency. Dedicated safety devices, on the other hand, are purpose built for use in emergency situations and are discretely activated by a single button press, external SOS triggers, or even automatic fall detection capabilities.

If your worker is incapacitated from a fall, they could be unable to call 911. However, with one-touch devices, workers can issue an SOS response with a simple push. Some devices even have built-in features carefully designed to detect when a worker falls down, automatically triggering a notification and prompting a response protocol. Notifications can also be triggered automatically if a worker fails to check-in regularly, which is likely if they are unable to reach their device during an emergency or hazardous event.

7. Safety solutions enable workers to report emergencies

As previously mentioned, employees may be too timid or shy to call 911 unless they feel that their situation is, in their subjective view, a true emergency. This can increase liability for your organization. Our solutions allow workers to get help regardless of the severity of the emergency. The action plan and sequence will route the necessary information to make the appropriate decision for action.

8. Dialing 911 can incur major costs

In addition to the high healthcare costs in the United States, false alarm calls to 911 can also lead to hefty fines. This can be problematic for businesses as they may lack the process to properly triage their own worker hazards. Moreover, relying on employees to make subjective decisions about whether their situation is an emergency can also be challenging.

Furthermore, using 911 and having an ambulance arrive can start the ball rolling on significant costs. Ambulance operators have a duty of care and may take a patient to the hospital emergency room when it isn't absolutely necessary. This means that businesses need to carefully consider when to use emergency services and whether an ambulance ride is truly necessary, given that the cost of the ride alone is typically $1000 on the low end, not to mention additional care provided at the hospital.

The importance of a safety focus

While 911 can be a useful resource, it is not a comprehensive solution to a lone worker safety program. Dedicated solutions like those offered by Aware360 may be a better fit compared to 911 because they are purpose-built for use in different types of situations where employees need support. 

Safety solutions can help organizations protect their personnel and operations and can be the key difference between a safe and unsafe work environment. In order to select a safety solution that suits an organization's needs, it's important to understand and evaluate these capabilities.

Dedicated safety solutions from Aware360 prioritize workers' health and well-being. No matter where workers are located, these solutions help keep them safe. Contact our dedicated team of safety experts to learn more about how the latest safety solutions can protect your workers.

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