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Recent Escalation of Fatal Attacks Prompts Calls for Increased Security at Places of Worship

February 18, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

candlelight after church massacreAttacks against places of worship are not a new phenomenon; and although the volume of attacks against places of worship is no greater than it was a decade ago, the number of incidents resulting in one or more fatalities has escalated - prompting calls for increased security.

In April 1990, Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act requiring the attorney general to collect data relating to “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity”. The responsibility for collecting data was delegated to the FBI, who - via the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program - has developed an extensive database spanning almost three decades.

Due to the sortable nature of the database, it is possible to extract statistics relating to hate crimes that have occurred in churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of worship. The data reveals that the volume of attacks against places of worship is much the same as it was ten years ago, although considerably higher than it was five years ago.

However, what the bare data doesn't show is a recent escalation of fatal attacks. These have increased significantly over the past ten years according to the Faith Based Security Network (FBSN) - a non-profit charity that monitors attacks against places of worship and their outcomes. The chart below illustrates why church leaders are calling for increased security at places of worship.

fatal attacks at places of worship graph

How Places of Worship are Reacting to this Escalation

Places of worship are reacting to this escalation of fatal attacks in a number of ways. Some use teams of armed volunteers to provide security at services, while others have engaged private firms to protect worshippers. In some states, legislation has been passed to fund security training for volunteers, or to pay for security measures such as shatterproof glass and CCTV cameras.

Federal grants are also available through FEMA's Nonprofit Security Grants Program, but grants are capped to $75,000 per congregation and the total budget available for nonprofit security grants per year is $20 million. With about 384,000 places of worship throughout the country, the federal government has been criticized for not doing enough to help protect soft targets.

Related Blog: Increasing Soft Target Security - One Year On

In its defense, FEMA provides a wealth of resources to help places of worship better protect themselves. In addition to explaining how congregations can participate in federally-funded preparedness activities, and become involved in community emergency management, FEMA's website includes links to courses, webinars, and a very relevant Guide for Developing Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship.

The guide acknowledges attacks against places of worship are not a new phenomenon and notes that they often happen with little or no warning. Due to the escalation of incidents resulting in one or more fatalities, the guide dedicates a full section to emergency planning in the event of an active assailant situation.

Protecting House of Worship against Attacks

Much of the advice provided by the guide to protect houses of worship against active assailants is similar to that provided for schools. Among other measures, FEMA recommends having technologies in place to report suspicious activities, discretely alert 9-1-1 to active assailants, warn congregations of a threat. It also recommends providing 9-1-1 with facility plans to better prepare first responders.

Protecting Houses of Worship Whitepaper

Implementing Emergency Response Plans in Manufacturing Facilities

February 11, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

manufacturing emergency response planIt’s important for businesses to create and have comprehensive emergency response plans in place in the case of a workplace emergency. It’s especially important that workplaces with hazardous materials, heavy machinery, and increased risks for injury on the job to have a comprehensive emergency response plan. Those working in the manufacturing industry are often exposed to workplace hazards that could cause extreme injury or even death, which is why being prepared for emergencies within the workplace is paramount.

In 2018 there were 342 fatal injuries and 395,300 non-fatal injuries in the manufacturing industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These numbers prove safety should be on the forefront of employee’s minds and that an emergency response plan must be in place to keep a manufacturing facility running.

How to Implement an Emergency Response Plan in Manufacturing

Risk Assessment

Before creating an emergency response plan, there should be a full risk assessment conducted on-site. There are three stages of risk assessment Ready.gov and the Receptionist has listed as follows:

  • Hazard identification:
    Consider which types of hazards could affect your company, from natural disasters to human-caused dangers.
  • Vulnerability assessment:
    In this stage, consider which assets are at risk from each potential hazard. The most important “asset” is always your employees, but you’ll also have to worry about things like supply chain interruptions and even your company’s long-term reputation.
  • Impact analysis:
    This is where you get clear about the actual, measurable damage that could be done by the disaster.

Once you have identified the risks within your facility and have determined what the strengths and weaknesses are, you can begin creating your emergency response plan. 

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Create Emergency Response Plan

Once your facility has determined the problem areas or hazards, as well as strengths, you can start to create an emergency response plan around facing any hazards for the company.

Below are some emergency options to keeping your employees safe from The Receptionist:

  • Evacuation:
    All building occupants must be relocated in the case of emergencies such as fires, hazardous chemical spills, gas leaks, and bomb threats. Evacuation plans require safe, clearly marked routes to exits and clearly designated meeting spaces.
  • Shelter or Shelter-In-Place:
    The safest option in the face of many outside threats, such as a tornado or an external chemical spill, is to take shelter within the appropriate space inside the workplace. Employees need to know exactly how to get to the designated safe spaces for each emergency scenario.
  • Lockdown: 
    In the case of an on-site threat of violence or a threat of violence in the vicinity, the best course of action is to lock employees inside, instruct them to barricade the entrances, and shut down outside access to the building.

Employees should understand the differences between these emergency options, and in what situations they’ll be implemented during an emergency.

It would also be helpful to encourage employees to take on certain rolls, including who should be authorized to order an evacuation or shutdown and which employees are responsible for moving building occupants to safe spaces. Making workplace safety a team effort should be both rewarding as well as informational. Your employees should be prepared for any and every safety threat within the manufacturing plant.

Efficient Communication Strategy

Communication during an emergency is essential. Employees and building visitors must be informed of any emergencies from an impending weather event such as a tornado, to a hazardous chemical spill on a certain floor, to an active assailant situation in the building.

A communication strategy should be a top priority during the creation of an emergency response plan, as employees and workers will rely on the manufacturing facility to have highly efficient communication throughout the event of a crisis.

Related Blog: How to Successfully Implement a Culture of Accountability to  Address Safety Concerns in the Manufacturing Industry

Educate and Train Employees

An emergency response plan will only be effective if it is tested, tweaked, and taught to employees. Your manufacturing facility should conduct intensive safety training sessions so that they understand how to act in the case of an emergency, and should also make sure the emergency response plan is readily accessible.

Practice makes perfect, and in an emergency situation the way it is handled should be as close to perfect as your company can get. You should run frequent drills for several emergency situations and work through any issues that may arise, which will streamline emergency response.

Technology Solutions to Help

Manufacturing businesses are turning to safety technology solutions, such as mass notification technology and mobile panic button applications, to help streamline communications between users, workers, and visitors.

Mass notifications are essential in an emergency situation, as employees and visitors should always be informed if there is something going on. With a simple text message to a short code, visitors can instantly be signed up to the manufacturing facilities emergency notification platform to receive updates in the case of an emergency for an allotted amount of time.

By using a mobile panic button application, users can call 9-1-1 with just the tap of a button informing workers, 9-1-1, and first responders of an emergency simultaneously. Call dispatchers will also have all facility plans through the technology allowing them to direct first responders more effectively.

Panic Button Video CTA

How to Successfully Implement a Culture of Accountability to Address Safety Concerns in the Manufacturing Industry

February 4, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

manufacturing industry safetySafety experts believe that, by implementing a culture of accountability for safety in the workplace, businesses in the manufacturing industry can reduce avoidable injuries and increase efficiency and productivity. However, there are challenges involved in implementing a culture of accountability.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 343 fatal and 395,300 non-fatal injuries in the manufacturing industry in 2018. Although these statistics mean the rate of fatal and non-fatal injuries per 100 Full Time Employees has fallen by a third over the past ten years, manufacturing is still one of the most dangerous industries to be employed in.

Related Blog: The Top Health and Safety Apps Your Construction Employees Need  on Their Smartphones

The table below lists the top five safety hazards in manufacturing; and, in many cases, injuries from these safety hazards are avoidable. Safety experts believe that, while many businesses make great efforts to implement physical safety mechanisms, not enough is being done to develop a culture of accountability for safety in the workplace.

The Top 5 Safety Hazards in Manufacturing

Slips, trips, and falls

Poorly installed or missing machine safety guards

Powered industrial trucks, fork lifts, and platform lifts

Electrical faults

The failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures

 

What is a Culture of Accountability for Safety in the Workplace?

A culture of accountability for safety in the workplace is one in which, rather than employers taking responsibility for policing compliance with safety policies, employees are accountable for the safety of their tools, equipment, and workspaces, and those of their colleagues. This type of accountability is claimed to foster individual initiative, open communication, and co-employee support.

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Admittedly, there are challenges involved in implementing a culture of accountability due to existing working practices and an entrenched culture of blame. To overcome these challenges, employees must be encouraged to report safety issues, be given the tools to report them (anonymously if necessary), and feel confident the reports are being attended to.

How to Successfully Implement a Culture of Safety

One of the easiest ways to successfully implement a culture of safety is via a text messaging safety app. Using the app, employees can text their safety concerns (anonymously if necessary) to maintenance, security, or management teams, who can review the messages via a central dashboard on which all text messages are recorded. This enables the teams to prioritize reports and organize remedial action.

The way in which the concerns are recorded, prioritized, and remediated introduces a degree of accountability for maintenance, security, or management teams. If, for example, an employee reports a missing machine safety guard, and nothing is done about it within an acceptable period of time, the concern can be escalated with proof a report was made.

Further Benefits of Text Messaging Safety Apps

Text messaging safety apps also function as emergency panic buttons, so that if a workplace accident occurs, employees can call 9-1-1 with two taps of a smartphone screen. The benefit of using this system is that the app relays the nature and location of the emergency to call dispatchers automatically - which saves call dispatchers time asking questions about the accident and accelerates emergency response.

The text messaging safety system can also be integrated with workplace alert systems so that, in the event of an emergency requiring an evacuation or lockdown, co-employees are notified simultaneously. Call dispatchers can also get access to facility plans through the system in order to further accelerate emergency response and better prepare first responders for their arrival.

Find Out More about Workplace Safety Technologies

Evidence suggests that, by exchanging a culture of blame for a culture of accountability, businesses benefit not only from fewer avoidable injuries, but also from increased efficiency and productivity.

If your business would like to improve its safety posture by implementing a culture of safety - and increase efficiency and productivity at the same time - discover our business solutions below. 

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

The Top Health and Safety Apps Your Construction Employees Need on Their Smartphones

January 28, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

construction worker safetyWorker safety is extremely important to businesses across the country, especially if you’re in the business of construction. Why? This field typically see the most workplace injuries and unfortunately deaths. Construction workers are exposed to many dangerous situations on the job when compared to the average desk position, including high heights and hazardous equipment. Out of 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2018, 1,008 or 21.1% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths in 2018 were in construction, according to OSHA.

According to EHS Today, each day on average two construction workers die of work-related injuries. What is known to the construction industry as the “Fatal Four”, OSHA breaks down the leading causes of worker deaths in construction which accounted for over half of construction worker deaths in 2018. By eliminating the Fatal Four, almost 600 workers’ lives in the United States would be saved in every year.

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

EHS Today provides this important infographic with accidents statistics from Wilson Kehoe Winingham LLC below:

ConstructionInfographic

Health and Safety Apps Your Construction Employees Need on Their Smartphones

As smartphones are now the new norm, and apps range from mobile banking to realty to social media, we decided to break down some of the top health and safety apps that could be extremely beneficial to those working in construction.

  1. First Aid App
    The First Aid App was created by the American Red Cross and has helpful information with simple instructions which allow workers to quickly address accidents and serious injuries. The app has videos, interactive quizzes, and step-by-step advice to make first aid easy.

    First Aid App

  2. OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool
    This app provides real-time heat index and hourly forecasts specific to your location, as well as occupational safety and health recommendations from OSHA and NIOSH. If a construction worker is working outside, it’s helpful to know plan out the day knowing how hot it will be.

    Heat Safety Tool App

  3. Ladder Safety
    As one of the top dangers for construction workers is falls, the Ladder Safety app created by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is extremely helpful. This app was dedicated to ensuring the safety of extension ladder users by developing and easy-to-use interactive ladder app for smartphones. Users will find graphic-oriented interactive reference materials, safety guidelines, checklists, inspection, accessorizing, and use.

    Ladder Safety App

  4. Decibel: dB Sound Level Meter
    The Decibel Meter app description explains that this app provides quick and easy sound measurement allowing users to keep track of the noise around them. This app will help workers avoid dangerous noise levels.

    Decibel App

  5. iAuditor: Inspections & Audits
    For those conducting inspections and audits on construction sites, this app is great. Users have utilized this app for running risk assessments, creating incident reports, analyzing job safety, and more. By digitizing a paper-based system, the easy to use iAuditor App has the ability to create custom templates, scan existing PDF files, or build an inspection form from scratch.

    iAuditor App

  6. Lift-All Sling Calculator
    The Lift-All Sling Calculator was designed to assist users in selecting the appropriate size slings for lifting applications.

    Lift-All Sling Calculator App

  7. Chemical Hazards Pocket Guide
    The Chemical Hazards Pocket Guide assists users by both recognize and control occupational chemical hazards. The information provided is a concise source of general industrial hygiene information for construction workers. Each chemical is listed with aliases and trade names as well as descriptions on whether its dangerous to touch, inhale, if it’s flammable, and more.

    Chemical Hazards Pocket Guide App

  8. Personal Safety App: Rave Guardian
    The Rave Guardian app is a custom-branded personal safety application that helps businesses both connect and engage with their employees wherever they are. With the push of a button users can instantly be connected to 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency with the ability to send a text message, photo, and share their location in real-time.

    Users can also send in anonymous tips or initiate a two-way chat to prevent dangerous situations, for example, if a workers notices somebody on the jobsite wasn’t wearing all of their required PPE (personal protective equipment) they can send that tip in to a safety professional who can then make a call on how to address the problem. Employers also have the ability to send geo-targeted alerts to employees as well as check in on employees.

    Rave Guardian App

Interested in learning more about Rave Guardian? Click below.

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How to Tell If Your Business has Grown Out of its Employee Communication System

January 21, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

business man employee communication systemIf your business experiences internal communication issues, it may be possible it has grown out of its existing employee communication system. If so, not only might an inefficient system be costing your business money, there could also be significant consequences in an emergency. Modern employee communication systems have a lot of roles to perform. Most commonly, systems are used to convey top-down communications (i.e. formal announcements), bottom-up communications (i.e. employee feedback), information communications (i.e. HR or IT policy changes), and peer-to-peer communications (i.e. collaboration). They can also be used for the roles of advertising job opportunities, announcing social events, and alerting employees to the risk of danger.

As well as having multiple roles to perform, employee communication systems also have to overcome issues with device compatibility. Due to the growing number of businesses taking advantage of remote working and BYOD policies, employees are now less likely to receive internal communications via a desktop computer and more likely to receive corporate news, provide feedback, and collaborate via tablets, smartphones, laptops, notepads, and smartwatches.

Related Blog: 5 Ways You Didn't Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

Consequently, many businesses operate employee communication systems that use a mixture of legacy applications - such as email and intranet - with more up-to-date communications technologies, such as team messaging software and social media networks. This isn't the best solution for internal communications, as it can cause message overload, which in turn can confuse employees about how best to provide feedback, adhere to policy changes, or collaborate with colleagues.

The Cost of an Inefficient Employee Communication System

Studies into the cost of inefficient employee communication systems have been conducted by SIS International Research and the Holmes Report. These place the average cost of an inefficient employee communication system at between $5,246 and $26,041 per employee per year depending on the size of the business and the industry in which it operates. Although the costs differ significantly, the leading communication pain points responsible for driving up costs are similar regardless of whether businesses are large enterprises or SMBs:

Top 10 Communication Pain Points for Business

Pain Point

Enterprise Ranking

SMB Ranking

Waiting for Information

1

1

Barriers to Collaboration

2

4

Unwanted Communication

3

2

Inefficient Coordination

4

3

Customer Complaints

5

5

Planning to Plan

6

6

Offsite Work

7

7

Travel to "Synch Up"

8

8

Cost of Business Travel

9

10

Cost of Working from Home

10

9

 

The takeaway from these studies are that, if employees in your business are experiencing any of these communication pain points, it is likely your business has grown out of its existing employee communication system. If you are unaware whether or not employees are experiencing these communication pain points, it is almost certainly the case your business has grown out of its employee communication system, and it needs to be replaced in order to eliminate unnecessary costs.

The Consequences of an Inefficient System in an Emergency

One of the ways in which businesses try to overcome communication pain points is by introducing more communication channels. This can work in certain circumstances, but using more communication channels to communicate day-to-day messages tends to result in more unwanted messages per employee, and increased cost in terms of loss of productivity while employees sift through the messages to find those of importance. There can also be consequences in an emergency.

“Alert fatigue” is a widely acknowledged condition in the healthcare industry and in other industries (i.e. construction, manufacturing, etc.) in which alarms are constantly activated. A similar effect can occur in other types of business environments when employees are overwhelmed by an inefficient employee communication system delivering unnecessary or duplicated messages. If employees fail to take notice of emergency alerts sent through the system, the consequences could be fatal.

Related Blog: How to Decide What Type of Alert To Send 

It's not simply the case that an employee might fail to take notice of an incoming alert and subsequently be trapped by a fire. If an employee with the responsibility for activating part of the business's emergency preparedness plan fails to take notice of an incoming alert, his or her “alert fatigue” could jeopardize the safety of hundreds of employees. For this reason, it is practical to implement a unified employee communication system with backup capabilities that eliminate the risks of alert fatigue.

What Does a Unified Employee Communication System Consist Of?

A unified employee communication system is one that takes advantage of the communication channels already being used by a business and unifies them into one system. Employees can be segmented into meaningful groups according to their roles, locations, or other attribute, so they only receive communications relevant to them through the channels of communication they prefer - with the exception of emergency alerts that should be dispatched through every channel.

Related Blog: Time for a Tune-Up? Get the Most Out of Your Alert System

The system should support two-way communication - not only for employee feedback and collaboration within teams, but also to support situational awareness during an emergency in order that incident managers can prioritize resources where they are most needed. It is also important the unified system has reporting capabilities so system administrators can identify any employees that have not received alerts or opened them. This feature also increases accountability in non-emergency communications.

Learn more about out business communication solutions today!

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

 

How 2-Way Communication Solutions can Support Stop Work Authority Workplace Safety Policies

January 14, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

shutterstock_583244545Stop Work Authority clauses in workplace safety policies can be difficult to manage due to the nature of events in which the clauses are put into operation. A 2-way communications solution with logging capabilities can help overcome any policy management issues and contribute towards a safer workplace environment.

In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) introduced minimum standards for workplace safety. It also introduced a number of workers' rights - including the right to refuse to work without fear of retribution if a situation had the potential to result in death or serious injury (1977.12(b)(2)).

The law was tested in 1974 when two Whirlpool employees refused to crawl out onto a screen from which an employee had suffered a fatal fall nine days previously. After an Ohio appeals court upheld the workers' rights, the court's verdict was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in 1980.

The term “Stop Work Authority” arrived from Europe in the 1990s and was predominantly used in the construction industry until 1999, when the Department of Energy published an Accidents Investigations Workbook in which one of the questions accident investigators were prompted to ask was “Were the workers empowered to stop work if unanticipated or unsafe conditions arose?”

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

The term has since been adopted by health and safety professionals across all industries, and Stop Work Authority clauses are often written into business workplace safety policies - the benefits being that, by giving a worker the authority to stop unsafe work, businesses can prevent loss, minimize business disruption, and promote a culture of workplace safety.

Issues with Managing Stop Work Authority Clauses

Despite it being nearly fifty years since the passage of OSHA, many Stop Work Authority clauses are still based on the conditions laid down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These stipulate a worker has the right to refuse to work when:

  • A risk to health and safety has been identified and brought to the employer´s attention, but the employer has failed to address the risk.
  • The worker genuinely believes “in good faith” that an imminent risk of danger exists (which can either be a danger to themselves or to work colleagues).
  • A reasonable person would agree there is a real danger of death or serious injury to the worker or a work colleague.
  • Insufficient time exists to address the risk via enforcement channels (i.e. by reporting the risk to a union representative or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration).

Although it is usually the case all four conditions have to apply before a worker has the authority to stop work, the process is open to abuse due to how the conditions can be interpreted. For example a worker could claim a risk exists to avoid working at a particular time; while an employer might claim a risk has been addressed, although the way in which it has been addressed still leaves a risk of danger.

Related Blog: Let the Games Begin: How to Gamify Safety at the Workplace

Even when there is no ulterior motive for claiming a risk exists/has been addressed, the failure to accurately document evidence of a risk existing or being addressed can lead to problems - especially if an avoidable accident subsequently occurs. For this reason, it is recommended businesses take advantage of 2-way communication solutions with logging capabilities.

How 2-Way Communication Solutions with Logging Capabilities Work

2-way communication solutions with logging capabilities work via mobile phone apps. Every conversation, image, and instruction sent through via app is recorded for review on an incident management and response dashboard. The recorded data can be used to identify frequently-occurring risks, employees most likely to report risks, and incomplete maintenance or repairs.

One of the advantages of having a mobile phone app dedicated to recording risks to safety is that workers are more likely to remember to use it during stressful circumstances. Furthermore, there are times when a risk may only be temporary (i.e. due to severe weather); and, by reporting the risk of danger “at the time and in the circumstances”, workers are not exposed to their claims being disputed.

Similarly, employers can document the measures taken to address frequently-occurring risks, record the times they have provided training to workers likely to perform risky tasks, and follow-up on incomplete maintenance and repairs. Subject to other business policies, the data can be shared among other departments (i.e. HR) to gain a better understanding of workplace dynamics.

Further Advantages of 2-Way Communication Solutions

2-way communication solutions that work via mobile phone apps can also be used as emergency notification solutions to alert the workforce to a fire, chemical spill, or other emergency; and as mobile panic buttons to simultaneously alert internal security and external emergency services to an incident - providing both the location and the nature of the incident in order to accelerate emergency response.

In addition, the apps can be used to enhance internal communication in non-emergency scenarios, solicit worker availability for additional shifts, and act as a dedicated social media channel to share corporate news, details of job vacancies, and social events. They can even be configured to be used for anonymous tip texting in order to reduce workplace bullying, inappropriate behavior, and insider theft.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

New Year, New Business Continuity Plan?

January 7, 2020 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

business continuity planWe’ve just entered a new decade, and many are deciding on their New Year’s resolutions for 2020. A common choice for many is to make a valiant effort to lead a healthy lifestyle, which can include clean eating, regular exercise, and a positive mindset. The same could be said for businesses. Running a healthy business with streamlined day-to-day communications and a positive work environment is extremely important as we enter the new year. One major key to maintaining a healthy business in the long term is by planning for the future. By forecasting and anticipating what will happen in the coming weeks, months, or even years, businesses must know how to respond in the event of an emergency situation or natural disaster.

So, is it time to revisit your organization’s business continuity plan?

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process involved in creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company, according to Investopedia. It is essential for an organization to have a comprehensive business continuity plan (BCP) to ensure both personnel and assets are able to function quickly in response to a disaster, threat, unplanned event, and more.  

When developing your business continuity plan, a company should identify potential risks which may include a natural disaster, fire, flood, active assailant, and cyber-attacks. Once those risks have been found, Investopedia recommends the following:

  • Determining how those risks will affect operations
  • Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
  • Testing procedures to ensure they work
  • Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date

Developing or Updating Your Business Continuity Plan

Whether your company is starting fresh with a new BCP, or updating a current business continuity plan, it’s important to go through the following steps to develop a solid plan, provided by Investopedia.

  • Business Impact Analysis:
    During the impact analysis, a business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. Those who are function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business will look at the following:
    • The impacts – both financial and operational - that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes.
    • Identifying when the loss of a function or a process would result in the identified business impacts.

By completing an analysis, companies can prioritize the processes that would have the biggest impact and address them.

  • Recovery:
    During recovery, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
  • Organization:
    A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
  • Training:
    The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.

Practice Makes Perfect

Testing your business continuity plan is essential. It is the only way to truly know it will work. Lorraine O'Donnell, global head of business continuity at Experian told CIO.com that businesses should try to break it, “Don't go for an easy scenario; always make it credible but challenging. This is the only way to improve. Also, ensure the objectives are measurable and stretching. Doing the minimum and 'getting away with it' just leads to a weak plan and no confidence in a real incident.”

Some common tests for running through your BCP include structured walk throughs, in which team members walk through each component of the business continuity plan to identify any weaknesses that must be addressed. CIO.com explains, some organizations also incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through.  Another test is a simpler table-top exercise. These are typically run in a conference room with the entire team going through the plan together, looking for gaps, and ensuring that all business units are represented.

Business Continuity and Employee Safety

At the end of the day, a business continuity plan is essential to keeping a business running smoothly, but businesses care most about keeping their people safe. Effective communication before an emergency is key so that employees know their roles when an emergency occurs, and in the case of an emergency, whether a severe weather event or active assailant, upholding this effective communication with your employees and staff is extremely important.

Related Blog: 5 Ways You Didn't Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

Many businesses use emergency communication solutions to reach, engage, and protect employees when seconds count. A mass notification system doesn’t only need to be used during emergencies, but also for day-to-day communications. Employees will be familiar with the texts, calls, or emails, an in turn will expect them if an emergency situation arises.

This multi-national consumer goods manufacturer improved their communications speed and in turn their corporate resiliency by leveraging critical communication technology. Interested in how? Click below.

Universal - Case Study Consumer Goods Company

Most Common Workplace Injuries During the Holiday Season

December 24, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

office holiday decorationsIt's the time of year where offices are hosting delicious cookie swaps, hanging festive decorations, and playing joyful music. Some argue it's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most dangerous. Whether employees are preparing their homes for an influx of relatives, making sure everything is completed at work before taking off for a few days, or wrapping up end of year reporting, the holiday season brings added stress that could potentially lead to unfortunate accidents.

In 2018 there were more than 2.8 million recorded workplace illnesses and injuries. Being aware of common and potential injuries and their causes is extremely important to keeping employees safe this holiday season. 

6 Most Common Workplace Injuries During the Holiday Season

  1. Slips, Trips, and Falls
    There's nothing like creating a positive and festive workspace around the holidays. This can be a fun task for office bonding and raise morale in the office. That means there are some increased risks to look out for. More than 240,000 slips, trips and falls were reported in 2018. Make sure employees stand on steady objects (like a step ladder) and not a chair on wheels when hanging up decorations. Ensure that all objects are secured in place so they don’t fall and cause someone to slip. 

  2. Fire Breakouts
    Twinkling lights hanging around the office always adds a nice flare of holiday spirit, but it is important to be aware where the lights are plugged in. Power strips and extension cords can only handle so much electricity at once. Make sure that outlets aren’t overloaded and that everything is unplugged at the end of the day to prevent any fires or incidents overnight. 

  3. Food Safety

    With all of the goodies co-workers are bringing in during the holiday season, it is important to make sure common food allergens are being reported. Milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat are the most common food allergies, and many of these ingredients are used for baking cookies, brownies and other delicious goodies. 

  4. Winter Hazards

    In areas where snow is almost a guarantee around the holiday season, it is important to be mindful of the extra time it may take to get to and from work. Slippery road conditions can lead to delays and added traffic. It’s also good to remember a snow scraper for when it snows during the day. At least 11 states have a law requiring drivers to remove snow and ice from their vehicles before they hit the roads. Tune in to local radio stations and see what the road conditions are like before you head out -- it might be safer to work from home.  

  5. Drunk Driving
    With the holidays comes corporate and business holiday parties. It is key to make sure employees are being safe when they leave, especially after a couple of drinks. No one wants a coworker to be in an accident when leaving a party. Your company might have pre-paid taxis or other free services for a safe ride home. Make sure the codes are visible to employees. If you see a coworker who probably shouldn't drive, encourage them to take advantage of a free and safe ride home. 

  6. Increased Traffic
    With the increased travel during the holiday seasons, traffic is inevitable. The best way to handle it is to make sure you leave enough time to get to work and aren’t rushing. Fender benders are most common around this time so make sure to leave enough room between you and the car in front of you.

Technology to Prevent and Respond to Workplace Injuries

The holiday season can bring a lot of added stress and pressures from both work and family life. Be sure to take time to relax and enjoy the season. There is always time tomorrow to wrap those last few presents and finish the last report. Fatigue and exhaustion are common factors when it comes to workplace injuries around the holidays because employees aren’t often at their sharpest or they have a lot on their mind. The holiday season is a time for good cheer and celebration. Don’t let common injuries interrupt that. 

Businesses are taking their employee's safety seriously but implementing helpful technologies to streamline communications and ensure workplace safety. Using a corporate safety app is a great way for offices to engage with their workers throughout the holidays by sending resources, safety assistance, and two-way communications. Employees are able to contact specific departments through text message as well as receive geo-targeted push notifications. 

In the case of an emergency workers also have the ability to immediately contact and connect to 9-1-1 or security with the push of a button. If there is a safety threat or medical emergency a user can contact on site security or first responders who will receive detailed location data, which is critical in an emergency situation. A corporate safety app can reduce response times and reduce the risk of employee injury. 

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Why Lone Worker Security Apps Should Be Available to All Employees

December 17, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

lone worker security

There has been significant growth in the number of businesses addressing the issue of lone worker security. For many, taking advantage of lone worker security apps has been one successful safety solution. However, there are many scenarios in which employees not classified as lone workers could face similar health and safety risks and could also benefit from lone worker security apps.


It has been estimated that 16 percent of the workforce in North America falls into the classification of a lone worker - an employee who conducts tasks without supervision or support from colleagues. In many cases, lone workers are exposed to health and safety risks that would not occur in a multi-occupancy environment. For example, there is likely no one available to assist them should an adverse event occur.

In recent years there has been a significant growth in the number of businesses addressing the issue of lone worker security due to state-imposed occupational safety laws, increasing employee insurance premiums, and greater awareness of the health and safety risks faced by lone workers. According to one study, the market for lone worker protection devices in Europe and North America is expected to reach more than 260 million by 2022.

The fastest growing segment of this market is lone worker security apps. These have substantial advantages over portable and wearable devices because as an employee is more likely to remember their mobile phone than a GPS tracking device (and keep it charged), software updates are automatic, and the cost of a safety app is significantly lower than a lone worker protection device.

There is also an argument that lone worker security apps should be made available to all employees. There are many employees who are not classified as lone workers, but who frequently find themselves in situations where they are confronted by similar health and safety risks. This article examines the risks, how lone worker security apps can mitigate those risks, and how they could be used to create a safer and more productive workplace environment.

Lone Worker Security and Health Risks

Security officers, delivery agents, shop workers, environmental health officers, maintenance workers, salesmen/saleswomen and mobile workers (i.e. taxi drivers) are among the many professions in which lone workers can find themselves in confrontational situations with dissatisfied or unpredictable members of the public. These circumstances should be considered in an employer's risk assessment and measures put in place to enhance lone worker security.

Additional health and safety risks for lone workers exist when an unavoidable accident occurs and there is no one available to assist them. According to the latest available OSHA Workplace Fatality statistics, fatal work injuries from slips, trips and falls accounted for 15 percent of  incidents in 2019 in professions where the victims were typically lone workers (carpenters, tree trimmers, tractor-trailer truck drivers, etc.).

If some of these fatally-injured workers had an employer periodically checking on their wellbeing - even remotely - several of them might have survived. An employer unable to get a response from his or her lone worker could call emergency services or dispatched another employee to investigate the reason for the lack of a response. This process only requires a simple policy to be put in place and the technology to carry it out, yet it could save many lives.

How Other Employees Face Similar Risks

Employees classified as lone workers are not unique in experiencing violence initiated by a member of the public or unavoidable accidents when no one is available to assist them. Employees in many professions can encounter confrontational situations with dissatisfied or unpredictable members of the public. These professions include:

  • State and local government employees - including elected officials.
  • Teachers - who can be the victims of violence perpetrated by students, parents, and colleagues.
  • Realtors - who are at risk at each property they visit and also traveling between appointments.
  • Computer Engineers - who often work alone, late at night, and in frustrated clients' premises.
  • Restaurant and Bar Managers - who are often the last to leave and frequently carrying cash.

Employees in multi-occupancy environments also have the additional health and safety risks of colleague-on-colleague violence and workplace bullying. In fact, there are many examples of employees being in situations where they face a similar number - or more - health and safety risks than lone workers, and in which a lone worker safety app could either be used to summon assistance, report an adverse event, or be used by an employer to identify an unresponsive worker.

How Lone Worker Security Apps Work

Lone worker security apps are multifunctional apps that fulfill a number of roles. Usually connected to a system maintained by the business's security team, the apps can be used to call 911 directly or contact a key group of colleagues simultaneously with the press of an icon. In the case of a lone worker, this feature would connect him or her with the business's security team and colleagues working closest by.

The apps also have an automatic check-in safety timer. This function is set by the employee for a fixed period of time and, should the timer reach zero before the employee deactivates it, an alert is sent to the business's security team and a key group of colleagues. This overcomes the issue of employers having to periodically check-in on lone workers, remote workers, or any employee who may be working in a location where an accident may go unnoticed for a prolonged period of time.

While the check-in safety timer is activated, the employee's location is tracked by GPS. This can be of particular benefit for any employee who travels from site to site, as it means their wellbeing can be monitored by the lone worker security system before the timer reaches zero. The GPS tracking feature can also be used by emergency services to locate an unresponsive employee after an accident.

For employees subject to workplace bullying, the app can be used to send anonymous tips to security personnel, or this function can be used to report hazards that could cause an injury to another staff member. The lone worker security system can also be integrated with other personal safety systems (i.e. Smart911) to further enhance the protection provided to all employees.

The Benefits of Lone Worker Security for All Employees

Although the provision of “a safe and healthful workplace” should be a right enjoyed by all employees, there are many who are still are exposed to health and safety risks on a daily basis. Employers should - and in some states are required to - ensure all employees are given the protection they need to mitigate the risks, irrespective of whether they work in a brick-and-mortar environment or work alone.

The extension of lone worker security systems to all employees can result in a reduction of workplace bullying, fewer workers' compensation claims, and lower employer insurance premiums. Furthermore, the provision of a security system for all employees affirms the employer's commitment to safety, which in turn elevates staff morale, increases productivity and improves employee retention.

With regard to cost, once a lone worker security system is established, the cost of operating it is minimal. Costs will barely fluctuate whether there are two lone workers being protected by the system or two thousand office-based employees. Consequently, it makes perfect sense to make lone worker safety apps available to all employees - both financially and to best protect employees against health and safety risks in every workplace environment.

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The Best Way for Businesses to Calculate the ROI of Mass Notification Systems

December 17, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

ROI return on investmentThe best way for businesses to calculate the ROI of mass notification systems is not to regard them exclusively as emergency preparedness solutions, but also to consider how they can be integrated into day-to-day processes in order to enhance internal communication and productivity. Mass notification systems for business are most commonly regarded as effective solutions for getting the right message to the right people in the event of an emergency. They not only alert employees to the risk of danger, but can be used to accelerate emergency response and thereby reduce the impact of an emergency, which in turn enables businesses to recover quicker.

In this respect they are worthwhile commercial investments; but, when they are only activated in emergency situations, it is difficult to calculate the ROI of mass notification systems for business. This can make it difficult for safety and security teams to convince other decision makers to invest in what might be considered a preventative solution rather than a productive solution.

However, by integrating a mass notification system with day-to-day processes, businesses can calculate an ROI. The difference the solution can make to internal communication and productivity won't reflect the full ROI of mass notification systems, but it will provide safety and security teams with measurable metrics to justify the business's investment.

The Benefits of Mass Notification Integrations with Day-to-Day Processes

Mass notifications systems support unlimited database segmentation so businesses can divide employees into groups according to their location, role, or other attribute. In emergency situations this can help limit business disruption when only one area of the business campus is impacted by an incident, or (for example) communicate with members of staff who have medical training.

Related Blog: 5 Ways You Didn't Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

In non-emergency situations, the database segmentation capability can be used for communicating with separate teams, departments, or business units. The communications can be commercially-motivated (i.e. training) or social (i.e. corporate events); and - with the exception of emergency alerts - employees can select how they receive certain types of notification via a corporate branded portal. For example:

  • Send notifications of training sessions via email.
  • Send notifications of job openings via SMS text.
  • Send notifications of corporate events via social media.

Some mass notification system communications sent are recorded, which means there is an audit trail for every message and every response. System administrators can see via the platform which messages have been delivered and, if staff members have not responded to a notification requiring an RSVP - for example a meeting or training session - they can be followed up accordingly.

There is evidence to suggest accountable internal communications can increase the ROI of mass notification systems for business. In 2019, the UK's Institute of Internal Communication produced a report in which it was claimed “the perception is that there is a link between good internal communication and the level of financial performance and productivity achieved”.

Using Mass Notification Systems to Reduce Absenteeism Costs

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that productivity losses linked to absenteeism (both planned and unplanned) cost employers $1,685 per employee annually. Although much of the cost was due to wages paid to absent workers and overtime paid to replacement workers, a significant proportion was attributable to the time taken to find suitable replacement workers.

Related Blog: How to Use Mass Notification With A Remote Workforce

Businesses can minimize this portion of absenteeism cost by utilizing a geo-poll capability. This feature enables authorized personnel to send all appropriately-skilled, off-duty employees a message in a question and answer format. The question solicits employee availability to fill empty shifts, while the number of answers depends on the circumstances. An example would be:

We have three shifts available in the machinery department for tomorrow starting at 9.00 a.m. Please indicate your availability to fill one of these shifts by replying:

  1. I will take one of these shifts.
  2. I'm not available tomorrow.

The message is delivered by SMS text, email, and voice message, and employees reply using the numerical keys on their phone's keypad. Employers can see who has responded positively to the request and, as soon as the shifts are filled, employees automatically receive a second message informing them the extra work is no longer available.

Other Ways to Increase the ROI of Mass Notification Systems

Measuring improvements in productivity due to accountable internal communications and reducing absenteeism costs are just two of the ways in which businesses can calculate the ROI of mass notification systems. Businesses may also find other ways to increase the ROI of mass notification systems by:

  • Requesting volunteers to help with corporate-organized community projects.
  • Sending status updates to remote workers who may be affected by IT downtime.
  • Alerting vendors to inventory shortages or customers to shipping delays.
  • Sharing policy updates and receive acknowledgements.
  • Scheduling meetings and confirm attendance.
  • Sharing corporate news, awards, and financial reports.

To find out if the Rave Alert platform would generate a satisfactory ROI for your business, speak with us today about a free trial of our mass notification system for business. The free trial will give your business the opportunity to experience the platform's capabilities and identify ways in which Rave Alert can enhance your business's internal communication and productivity.

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The Difference Between A Corporate Travel App And A Traveling Employee App

December 10, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

business tripIn the technology-age, business managers are likely to have employees who spend time traveling for work-related reasons. There are many types of work-related trips an employee might be assigned to take, whether it is a one-day visits to another city for a special assignment, overnight travel for conferences or events, or travel between different office locations or facilities. For employers, travel risk management is likely among the top employee safety concerns, and recognizing the duty of care for traveling workers is essential. By understanding the duty of care, corporate managers can craft a comprehensive business travel safety policy and provide workers with appropriate resources. Technology can play a major role in managing safety for traveling employees as well as best implementing these tools. Safety managers should be able to distinguish the difference between a corporate travel app and a traveling employee app. 

What is a Corporate Travel App? 

Many businesses encourage workers to take advantage of corporate travel apps, which have a range of functionality. A corporate travel app will serve primarily to help employees manage trip logistics, from filing expense reports to itinerary planning. Travel-planning requires employers to take many factors into consideration, and for most, apps can help streamline this process. In recent years, a variety of corporate travel apps have become popular, from TripIt, which makes itinerary planning simply by tracking reservation numbers in one place, and Docusign, which makes the ability to draft and sign contracts digitally, which can be important for making the process mobile. Employers don’t need to use these apps for all travel purposes, but by leveraging travel-related technology, managers can better navigate the many facets of trip-planning. 

Employers looking to streamline expense reporting may want to invest in a reliable corporate travel app. The Department of Labor (DOL) sets specific standards for determining whether employee travel time is compensable. For example, home-to-work travel is typically classified as commuting and does not need to be paid. If a worker works at a fixed location in one city and needs to travel to another city for a one-day special assignment, that travel is considered paid-travel time, though the employer may deduct the employee’s typical commute time.

Travel that takes the employee away from home is considered work time where it cuts into the employee’s workday, and though transportation and lodging expenses should be paid by an employer, the time en route does not necessarily need to be compensated. Additionally, each state is likely to have a unique worker travel policy, and companies should review these standards before sending employees out-of-office. By deploying an expense-reporting app, a business can help workers navigate these policies successfully, and provids a simple, accurate way to file their hours spent out-of-office. 

Related Blog: Women Traveling For Business Face Higher Risks

Meanwhile, HR or financial teams may want to compare air travel costs with a corporate travel app, finding affordable and comfortable flights for workers. The app can be especially valuable for putting together last-minute travel plans - for example, if a customer or prospective client requests in-person assistance or to meet with a salesperson directly, an app can help your business quickly put together a travel plan. Many applications also help identify hotel accommodations within the company budget, and compare the various options in an area or read reviews to make sure the facility is safe, clean, and secure.

Many of these apps, such as Google Trips, consolidate the trip-planning process, allowing users to hotel bookings, and car reservations. Employers can also encourage workers to use this app to better explore an area outside of work-hours, and as an added bonus, the algorithm remembers a traveler’s preferences and caters to their personal taste in recommendations. 

What Is A Traveling Employee App? 

There are many apps for navigating corporate travel, but a traveling employee app is used more often to manage safety and security concerns. By leveraging certain traveling employee apps, organizations can engage directly with employees through a custom-branded interface to provide resources, safety assistance, and two-way communications throughout work-related trips. If workers need assistance or have any questions about their travel, a content portal available through an app can provide additional information and resources. Employers can provide a variety of key documents, such as expense-reporting protocol, work-trip itineraries, or emergency procedures for workers who are not currently in office. If a worker runs into an issue while abroad, a call directory can provide contact information for HR or company leaders, and an emergency call-button can connect them directly with security or first responders during an emergency. 

Related Blog: Workplace Safety is a Growing Concern in the Gig Economy

Choosing a traveling employee app with specific safety features designed for out-of-office trips can improve workplace security for all workers. For example, geo-targeted push notifications can increase the precision of a mass notification system, targeting traveling employees by their real-time locations, even during periods with no cellphone service. A safety timer can also be a powerful feature for improving safety globally, allowing employees to set a virtual escort while moving between locations, meaning no worker needs to travel alone. If the user does not arrive at their destination within the set time, the business and local law enforcement will be notified, and location-data from the app ensures help can reach them within an appropriate amount of time. 

Business leaders should invest in technology to manage financial, logistical, and safety concerns for employees traveling. These days, an app can help workers’ travel go more smoothly, managing expense-reporting, planning successful transport or hotel accommodations, and providing an extensive itinerary for the travel. Even more critical, apps provide an extra layer of safety and security for workers visiting a new location, allowing businesses to manage workplace safety for all. 

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

Nursing Home Statistics You Should Know

December 3, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Nursing Home StatisticsNews reports relating to nursing homes most often concern adverse events that result in the avoidable deaths of residents. These can misrepresent the good work many nursing homes do. So, in order to put these unfortunate events into context, we have compiled a selection of nursing home statistics you should know.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 76 percent of Americans aged fifty and over would prefer to stay in their homes as they grow old. Unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of us will require some form of long-term care outside the home before we meet our maker - the progression of care most often being: home health care > assisted living facility > nursing home.

In the United States approximately 1.3 million citizens live in nursing homes, of which more than 15,600 participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. These are certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who conduct inspections every nine-to-fifteen months to ensure standards are upheld, or to investigate issues reported by the nursing home or a member of a resident's family.

It is not unusual for CMS inspectors to find issues during scheduled inspections. The national average of citations per inspection is 5.7 (excluding isolated issues resulting in minimal harm), which implies there are almost 90,000 adverse events each year. However, because of the way in which citations are graded, it is possible to determine only 3.2 percent of issues result in actual harm or place residents in danger.

The CMS Citation Scale for Nursing Homes

The CMS citation scale for nursing homes runs from A (least severe) to L (most severe) according to whether issues are isolated, form a pattern, or are widespread. The most recent analysis of inspection reports reveals the most common issues are usually isolated environmental or care safety deficiencies with the potential to cause more than minimal harm but not resulting in actual harm:

Percentage Distribution of Nursing Home Deficiencies
Source: HHS (PDF) Isolated Pattern Widespread
Immediate Jeopardy J = 0.3% K = 0.4% L= 0.2%
Actual Harm G = 2.0%
H = 0.2%
I = 0.0%
Greater than Minimal Harm D = 55.2% E = 28.6% F = 8.2%
Minimal Harm A = N/A
B= 2.2%
C = 2.7%

 

When issues are identified, CMS inspectors have several courses of action available to them. The most common resolution is a Plan of Correction, while Civil Monetary Penalties are only issued for deficiencies in Category G and above. States can issue their own fines - the level of which varies by state - and CMS can withhold Medicare and Medicaid payments or disqualify the facility from the healthcare programs.

The base scale of Civil Monetary Penalties is relatively small - ranging from $250 per instance per day for a Category G deficiency, to $5,500 per instance per day for a Category L deficiency. However, the base scale can be increased if there is a history of noncompliance with previous Plans of Correction, repeated deficiencies within the same Category, or a general substandard quality of care.

There Have Been Some Large Fines Issued

The website prorepublica.com maintains a “Nursing Home Inspect” tool, using which it is possible to identify nursing homes with the most citations and highest Civil Monetary Penalties. The results imply CMS standards and fines for deficiencies are not applied consistently nationwide - or that nursing homes in certain states are particularly negligent. From the database, you can see the number of offensives and fines such as the top ten here:

Nº of Deficiencies Recorded since 2011 Highest Rated Deficiency Total Amount Fined since 2011 Medicare/ Medicaid Payments Suspended
38 K $1,508,727 N
47 G $1,449,150 Y
36 K $1,258,368 Y
19 K $1,254,213 N
25 G $1,166,314 Y
75 L $1,134,150 Y
87 K $1,034,214 N
50 J $1,013,002 N
42 J $999,802 Y
45 L $884,712 N

 

Learn More: What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

Putting Nursing Home Statistics into Context

If you multiply the average number of citations per CMS inspection (5.7), by the number of certified nursing homes (15,600) you arrive at the total number of citations per year (88,920). We know from the table above that 3.2 percent of deficiencies result in actual harm or place residents in danger, and 3.2 percent of 88,920 is 2,845 adverse incidents per year out of a nursing home population of 1.3 million.

This means a nursing home resident has a 1-in-457 chance of being injured or placed in danger due to an environmental or care safety issue, which - compared to life outside a nursing home - isn't bad odds. According to online insurance firm esurance.com, there is a 1-in-366 chance of being injured in an automobile accident for every 1,000 miles traveled.

Therefore, despite click bait headlines and significant Civil Monetary Penalties for isolated incidents, our nursing home statistics demonstrate residents are generally in safe hands and well cared for. Avoidable adverse events can happen with unfortunate consequences; but, in general, nursing homes are much safer, caring environments than they are sometimes made out to be.

How Technology Can Help Nursing Home Staff Stay Focused on Patient Safety

Staffing call outs, severe weather, influx of patient activities, all of these elements can have an impact on nursing home staff. And communication is key during all of these critical events. A mass notification system equipped to not only communicate these events but solicit feedback such as staff available to cover shifts, could truly make a difference. 

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How to Use Mass Notification With A Remote Workforce

December 3, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

airport In the United States, freelancers are projected to make up the majority of the workforce by 2027, as more companies embrace flexible work schedules, according to a study conducted by the Freelancer’s Union. The rise of remote work can be attributed to many different factors, including recent studies showing remote employees can be more productive and engaged in their work, how IoT is merging living and workspaces, and the ability to keep an employee on-call for customers due to flexible scheduling, according to Fast Company. In order to manage employees working in remote locations, office managers must create an open and effective communication system. The system should include safety protocol, and when attempting to reach a remote workforce during an emergency, a mass notification can be a powerful tool. 

Companies hoping to prioritize employee safety while taking advantage of a remote workforce should begin with a comprehensive remote work policy. The first step in creating a remote work policy is determining who on your team can benefit from a remote-work, and if these individuals will need additional training or resources for success. Before establishing a remote work-force, be sure to consult with Human Resources, as well as legal and finance teams, to create an official policy to ensure that remote workers will know who to reach out to with any questions or concerns. 

It’s also important to consider how remote work will impact collaboration, and which tools can continue to ensure that all employees are capable. Finding the appropriate tools for communication is often a priority for remote workers, as being out of reach is one of the main issues managers struggle with for remote teams. These tools can include video conferencing software or hardware, equipment to maintain a home workspace, meeting spaces in-office where remote workers can be seen or heard, and of course, a mass notification system to keep employees informed of any emergency or important company news. 

Blog-Quote-RemoteWorkforce112019

Manage cybersecurity concerns by providing workers with a VPN or any other relevant technology in case their system needs an additional layer of security to protect data. In addition to virtual security, it’s important for employees to be included in standard workplace safety procedures and training. Emergency communication is critical - in an era where workplace concerns can include a variety of issues, from a hurricane evacuation to an active assailant on campus, all workers will appreciate the extra layer of physical security a mass notification system can provide.  

How Mass Notification Can Improve Remote Employee Communication

Employees will only opt for a remote option if everyone feels valued and included, and especially if half the team works in-office, creating a strong communication strategy is critical. During a transition period, a mass notification system can provide a simple way to provide newly-remote employees with updates from the office. Managers can make decisions about how frequent to make notifications - the system can be leveraged during an emergency, but it can also be utilized to keep employees in the loop, including dates about major company-wide meetings or holiday events. 

By keeping employees up-to-date on company-planning, managers can further ensure that remote workers feel included. The system allows for a more connected workplace community overall, which will be even more important as the rate of remote work continues to rise and more employees are an outside-of-the office. The employee notification database on a versatile mass notification system can be divided into groups to account for employee’s role, location, or specific interests. Employees can choose groups they belong to and how often they receive alerts via a company-branded web portal, provide the company with specific information that may be relevant during an emergency, and request messages be received in any language. 

Related Blog: Workplace Safety is a Growing Concern in the Gig Economy

Corporate managers can leverage mass notification to communicate with workers throughout a variety of potential emergency situations, from dire situations such as an active assailant on-site or a severe weather emergency to smaller incidents, such as power outages at the corporate office or routine facilities management. If there is any health or safety concern in the workplace, it’s important to include remote workers, to avoid confusion or prevent a worker from interrupting emergency response. During a severe weather event, it’s also critical that remote workers are contacted, keeping these employees informed of any changes in scheduling or evacuation orders. Employers can leverage mass notification to go an extra step for worker safety, and contact employees throughout the storm  

How SMS Opt-In Can Improve Remote Workforce Communication 

When evaluating which mass notification system is most suitable for managing remote employee communications. An SMS Opt-In feature makes it easy for employees, contractors, and visitors to sign up for temporary or long-term notifications. SMS Opt-In for mass notification can be a critical feature for effective communication with employees who work off-site. Members of a corporate community, including remote workers, can opt-in to receive alerts using SMS and a keyword unique to your organization.

Related Blog: What is SMS Opt-In for Mass Notification Systems?

Managers can use a keyword for multiple events and have multiple keywords for one event. For many remote workers, flexibility is a major draw, and SMS Opt-In can help tailor a mass notification system for this work style. Set-up and management of the system is simple, and multiple features enable managers to reach out to remote employees, such as the ability to make public lists in which any visitor may opt-in or private lists that prioritize internal communications.

A mass notification system can also help a company conduct remote employee wellness checks during an emergency.  For example, GE Appliances conducted wellness checks for remote employees throughout the 2017 hurricane season. Managers leveraged a mass notification system to provide timely updates to contact workers via SMS text and email two times per day, and requiring employees to respond that they were safe. By taking a proactive approach to mass notification system, company officials were able to monitor safety for numerous employees across facilities, including those in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. The use case demonstrated how valuable a mass notification system can be during an emergency, no matter how spread out a workforce may be.

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Shop Small: Small Business Saturday & Small Business Safety

November 26, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

Small Business ShoppersSmall businesses have an integral role in local communities. They are the trusted shops that line downtown creating meaningful relationships with their loyal customers. They sponsor local sports team, schools and much more to fully emerse themselves within the community. The small retailers or Mom & Pop shops are owned and run by people providing for themselves and families. Shopping small makes a big difference for all those involved. Whether it is a coffee shop downtown or a retailer, shopping in the local community can have some great benefits.

What is a Small Business?

There are different definitions of a small business depending on which industry they are a part of. The most general definition of a small business is based on information from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which explains that small businesses are privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships that are companies with 500 or fewer employees.  

Businesses with fewer than 500 workers account for 99.7% employer firms in the United States.

When is Shop Small?

We all know the famous Black Friday, with incredible deals at large stores such as Best Buy, Target, and more. Shop Small, or Small Business Saturday, is Nov. 30, 2019 this year, the day after Black Friday. 

Related Blog: Black Friday Safety Incidents - Business Preparedness

Hosted by American Express, Shop Small encourages people to get into town and support their local businesses. Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday when everyone is looking for deals on holiday gifts.

The Impact Shopping Small has on the Community

Shopping Small supports local companies of all sorts. Shopping at a family-owned framing spot or buying a handmade ring from your favorite online small business helps to promote more vibrant communities.

Many towns will host events and truly encourage people to check out local retailers. Choosing to spend money within the community means it is more likely to stay within the community. According to American Express, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community.

Some of our Favorite Shop Small Plans

  1. Montclair, NJ

The Montclair Center BID is giving out one-day parking permits to the first 200 people who show their same-day Small Business Saturday receipts at the BID tent.

Doing a little promotion like this can encourage people to stop downtown and visit retailers.

  1. Rochester, MI

Downtown Rochester is participating in Small Business Saturday. They have a few things planned to get shoppers into the area, the most rewarding being a prize of $5,000 if you take a picture of your receipt from a purchase made on the day.

There are also carriage rides and holiday lights on display. The area will be well prepared for holiday shoppers!

  1. Farmington, ME

Various book stores, florists, and cafes are offering special discounts to those shopping on Small Business Saturday. Everything from percent discounts to chocolate samples will downtown.

  1. New Albany, IN

Business leaders in New Albany stepped into the city to remind shoppers about Shop Small. The stores and downtown is preparing for holiday shoppers. Because there are less days between Thanksgiving and December holidays, store owners hope there will be high turnout.

Wherever you are, shopping in town can be a great experience and supports the local economy.

Small Businesses Have Similar Needs to any Large Sized Company

While smaller businesses have significantly less employees than most other companies, their needs are similar to any major corporation. Employee safety is just as important to a small business as it is to any business. 

Being able to quickly and effectively communicate with employees is always important. With winter weather upon us, for example, communicating with employees about shift changes due to snow and ice, power outages, and more, is extremely helpful in keeping employees safe and off the roads.

With emergency employee notifications, personal safety apps, employee check-ins, and panic buttons, you can establish robust security operations to protect employees and communicate with them during and after ongoing incidents.

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Workplace Safety is a Growing Concern in the Gig Economy

November 19, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

gig economy workerWorkplace safety is always a concern for companies, as it is their responsibility to keep employees safe from harm. There has been a large growth of the gig economy in recent years, which has transformed the modern workforce and upended traditional models for developing both a workplace safety culture as well as worker safety training, according to Seyfarth Shaw attorneys.

So, what is gig economy? Gig economy refers to a general workforce environment in which short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting is commonplace, Wonolo explains. Those who work for companies like Uber and Lyft, independent contractors, freelancers, and temporary staffing firm employees are all considered to be a part of the gig economy. According the Forbes, more than one third of U.S. workers are in the gig economy, which equates to approximately 57 million people. A huge number.

Related Blog: The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

How Does the Gig Economy Work?

When somebody does an individual paid task, assignment, or job, this is considered a gig. A gig represents just a small portion of a worker’s income as a worker is typically aggregating a variety of tasks for different clients or companies, which in turn makes their cumulative earnings similar to a full-time salary. Some leverage short-term gigs as a side job to earn some extra cash part-time.

Wonolo tells us, “the gig economy operates on technology platforms that aim to connect workers looking for flexible work arrangements with the companies who need them in a centralized location, such as an app or website.” Companies such as Uber, a ride-sharing service, are specific technology platforms that connect those who are Uber drivers with those looking for transportation. These niche companies can range from copywriting tasks, to dog walkers, to housekeeping tasks.

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Workplace Safety Hazards for the Gig Economy

The gig economy does not have the traditional employer to employee structure, as these jobs often don’t have workplace training or supervision. The new occupational hazards that have grown over the years has sparked labor groups, advocacy organizations, and state legislative bodies to concentrate their efforts to encourage gig companies to address safety risks in this changed environment. Some of the safety issues raised in the gig economy include the following, according to Seyfarth Shaw attorneys:

  • Transportation Incidents
    Many of the companies that currently exist in gig economy operate in higher-risk industries, such as the businesses that have transformed passenger transportation and freight delivery services. Workers are utilizing public roads and highways, which can cause a major risk to employees. Transportation accidents in general comprise nearly half of all workplace fatalities.
  • Lack of Training
    There is a serious lack of new-hire training in the gig economy as well as proper safety trainings, which causes workers to not have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs adequately. Safety trainings should be necessary to ensure gig workers are doing their jobs safely. Gig companies should also provide their employees with the proper protective equipment they may need on the job.
  • Young Workforce
    As the gig economy is characterized by flexibility and independence many young workers are jumping on board. Because these younger workers have less experience, they also haven’t been exposed to many occupational hazards in the workforce. Creating a safety culture can prevent these less experienced employees from injuring themselves on the job.
  • Lack of Communication
    Many gig workers may not know the right people within their company to contact if they have safety concerns. Without knowing who to report safety concerns to, workers may choose to simply not report them at all. Making sure there is both solid and constant communication between gig workers and gig companies is key to making sure employees stay safe. Some companies have turned to employee safety apps to ensure the safety of lone workers, which may be useful for gig companies as well.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health have lobbied OSHA to make changes in the gig economy by enforcing workplace safety issues under a dual employer theory. “This would make the gig company responsible for safety compliance, even though the gig worker is not an employee of the gig company”, Seyfarth Shaw explains. They continue by recommending, “Gig companies should consult with counsel and safety professionals to learn how to address hazards and mitigate risks and liabilities.”

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Employee Safety Apps and the Gig Economy

When somebody leaves for work, they expect to get home safely. This applies to those working in the gig economy as well. One great way to ensure remote and gig employees stay safe is by implementing an effective employee safety app. This safety app can help gig workers with common safety concerns on the job and attempt to protect them from harm. An app with an emergency call button, safety timer, and geo-targeted push notifications can guarantee employers can keep in touch with gig workers who are in a certain location.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

Why It's Not Too Early to Think about Workplace Winter Weather Preparedness

November 12, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

winter weather preparednessIf your workplace has been sweltering in the record temperatures recently experienced by much of the country, you may think it is a little premature to think about workplace winter weather preparedness. However, a “Polar Coaster” has been forecast for this winter, and it could happen sooner than predicted.

At the beginning of the month, more than a dozen Eastern cities from upstate New York to the Florida panhandle set all-time temperature records for October. Temperatures almost twenty degrees above normal for the time of year were recorded in many locations due to the jet stream keeping cooler weather to the North at bay - unless you lived in Montana.

Montana was setting records of a different nature. While temperatures remained below freezing for an October record of sixty-five consecutive hours, heavy snowfall accompanied by high winds caused property damage and power outages. Six locations recorded more than forty inches of snow, and the Greats Falls Airport recorded a temperature 13º lower than the previous October 1st record.

The Weather's Gone Mad, and it could be Getting Madder

Records highs and lows set simultaneously across the country are just the latest events in a year of mad weather that saw snow in Hawaii, a heatwave in America's northernmost town, and the earliest ever recording of a Category 5 typhoon in the Northern Hemisphere. Furthermore, according to the Farmers' Almanac, there is more mad weather to come.

The Farmers' Almanac is a 200-year-old publication with an uncanny history of accurate weather predictions. This winter, the publication is forecasting “so many ups and downs on the thermometer, it may remind you of a polar coaster”. Unfortunately, “ups and downs” means not only will the weather be cold, but there is also the risk of frequent flooding as ice and snow melts.

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Everywhere except the extreme south-east is forecast to be colder than usual - particularly during the last week in January and first week in February 2020. However, events that have occurred since the publication of the winter weather forecast in August could accelerate the pace of change and bring colder weather to most of the country much sooner than predicted.

Could Lorenzo's Wayward Path Indicate an Early Siberian Express?

In late September, Hurricane Lorenzo formed off the west coast of Africa. At the height of its intensity, Lorenzo was one of the largest and strongest hurricanes on record; and, had it continued on its projected path, could have resulted in one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to reach mainland America. However, around 2,000 miles from the coast, it turned around and headed towards Europe.

The reason for Lorenzo's wayward path was that it had intensified into a Category 5 hurricane much further east than usual due to the Atlantic Ocean being warmer than usual. This made the hurricane vulnerable to vertical shear winds in the mid-Atlantic, which caused Lorenzo to break down and move north-west into cooler waters. The consequence was it rained a lot in Ireland.

Related Blog: Severe Weather Alert Templates Businesses Should Be Using

Although the avoidance of a severe weather incident is good news for residents and businesses on the Eastern Seaboard, the early formation and dissipation of Hurricane Lorenzo is not good news for people hoping to avoid a long, cold winter. One of the effects of the North Atlantic Hurricane Season is that weather systems crossing the Atlantic from Africa keep cold winds from Siberia at bay until January.

If future tropical storms in the 2019 Hurricane Season start forming and dissipating further east, the likelihood is we will see the arrival of the “Siberian Express” much sooner than usual - possibly as soon as the end of November. For this reason, and despite the fact the sun may shining at the minute, it is not too early to think about workplace winter weather preparedness.

What Does Workplace Winter Weather Preparedness Consist Of?

What constitutes workplace winter weather preparedness will vary according the location of each business and the nature of its operations. OSHA has produced a winter weather preparedness guide encouraging employers to implement safe working practices, while the Weather Ready Nation program is due to launch its Winter Safety campaign on December 1st. Let's hope it's not too late.

OSHA's guidance includes a section focusing on the importance of staying up-to-date with weather conditions during the winter and having a reliable system to communicate with workers - especially remote workers. With these guidelines in mind, we have prepared a Severe Weather Communications Kit to provide employers with information to help prepare before the next weather event occurs. 

The Kit is free to download and, if you subsequently have any questions, our team of safety experts will be happy to provide you with answers and arrange a demo of our corporate safety solutions in action. The demo will give you the opportunity to identify how our solutions integrate seamlessly with federal weather notification tools and help employers keep in touch with remote workers during the winter.

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Black Friday Safety Incidents - Business Preparedness

November 5, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

shutterstock_234105334Every year, people across the United States set aside the Friday after Thanksgiving to shop. On Black Friday, retailers offer reduced prices to commemorate the official start date of the holiday shopping season, and sales events can bring out major crowds. In November of 2018, about 71% of holiday shoppers made a purchase in stores or online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to a survey by Deloitte. Even though online shopping has made Black Friday sales more accessible, hundreds of people still wake up early to line up outside of store locations, hoping to take advantage of sale prices. Major crowds can present risks for retail workers and managers alike, and in the weeks leading up to the holiday, safety incident prevention and preparation should take priority. 

The enduring appeal of Black Friday may have a lot to do with potential chaos. Consumers often enjoy the thrill of fending off other shoppers in pursuit of a deal, or enjoy the immediacy of picking an item off the shelf and bringing it home. For employees, the holiday can be a hectic, and even dangerous, experience. Over the years Black Friday crowds have resulted in numerous safety incidents for both employees and shoppers. Employers have the responsibility to put together a comprehensive business preparedness plan to manage crowds on the busy retail day, training employees how to respond to an emergency and hire the appropriate security personnel. 

Related Blog: How Cost-Effective are Physical Security Solutions in the  Workplace?

In 2008, an employee at Wal-Mart was killed on Black Friday when an “out of control” crowd broke down the doors of a store in Long Island, New York, according to the Guardian. Many workers were injured attempting to reach and help the man, and four other people, including a woman who was 8-months pregnant, get to the hospital. Following the incident, law enforcement reported the stampede of shoppers could not be subdued, even following the employee’s severe injury, and that the store had not taken proper security measures. In 2011, a similar incident occurred in Southern California, when a woman pepper-sprayed shoppers in Wal-Mart on Black Friday, requiring firefighters to arrive on the scene to treat over 10 people, as per CNN. 

Luckily, Black Friday incidents are on the decline, due to raised awareness about crowd-related risks and the rise of online shopping. However, past incidents, from out of control crowds to customers using pepper spray, employers should be prepared for worst-case scenarios on the major shopping day. Retailers can better manage lines of eager, early-morning shoppers and any potential safety incidents by taking a proactive approach to crowd-control and emergency communication. 

What Are Black Friday Risks? 

Black Friday sales have become more manageable for employees, but crowds and rowdy shoppers still pose risks. In 2018, Matthew Ishak, a 21 year old employee for Wal-Mart, reported that he broke up a fight between a man who punched a woman in the face over a TV, according to the Washington Post. Ishak’s story is not uncommon among seasonal employees - and training workers how to deescalate potential confrontation is a must. It’s critical that employees understand risks and know how best to mitigate a confrontation without putting themselves, or other shoppers, in danger. Being transparent and communicating with customers, whose fear of missing out on deals has largely drove chaos over the years, can also reduce the risk of confrontation during the major shopping day. 

busy store people shopping

Similarly, one of the biggest concerns for businesses is crowd control or management. Employers safety and wellness programs should offer guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season, especially on Black Friday. In 2008, Wal-Mart failed to properly plan the appropriate security ahead of the sale, which led in part to the tragic death of the employee working at their Long Island branch. Since the event, Wal-mart began collaborating with crowd management experts and law enforcement to keep shoppers safe, according to the New York Times.Safety planning for can begin long before doors open the day of the sale - with crowd management, pre-event set up, and emergency protocol. 

Among the common Black Friday risks, slips, trips, and falls, which are one of the most common hazards in the retail industry. According to the National Safety Council, falls from height or falls from the same level resulted in 29,830 injuries and 29 deaths in the retail trade. If in a region with inclement weather, Black Friday sales can increase risks, as snow or rain from boots or other winter weather, as well as dropped items, increase the risk of a collision. 

Given how falls are 100% preventable, it’s important for a business to review safety tips, such as wearing comfortable, practical footwear, be conscious of fatigue, frustration, or burn-out throughout the day, and remain aware of surroundings, especially potential obstacles or debris. 

How Can Business Prevent Incidents? 

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues a safety reminder for retailers on holiday shopping and crowd management safety. In 2019, following a year where violent shootings took place at retail facilities, taking the appropriate precautions is more necessary than ever. “With thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan and maintaining emergency exits free of obstructions, we all can have a safe and happy holiday season,” an OSHA memo to retailers read in 2014. 

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The OSHA “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines For Retailers” Fact Sheet focuses on crowd-related injuries which can occur during special sales and promotional events. OSHA recommends that employers planning a large shopping event adopt a plan which includes planning, pre-event set up, strategies for managing crowds during the sales event, and planning for emergency situations. Employers can better ensure safety on Black Friday by following tips from the OSHA Fact Sheet, but also throughout the holiday season. Find a few examples of OSHA’s safety and security reccomendations below: 

Planning: 

  • For Black Friday and any other day with a large crowd expected, hire additional staff as needed, as well as trained security or crowd management personnel and police officers on site 
  • Contact local fire and law enforcement to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements, and ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained and that local emergency services, including the local police, fire department and hospital, are aware of the event 
  • Provide extensive training for workers on crowd-management and the emergency plan, provide an opportunity to practice ahead of time and include public service agencies in the drill 

Pre-Event Set-Up

  • Install barricades and rope lines that allow for orderly entry to the store 
  • Locate sales-items in different parts of the store to prevent overcrowding, and consider using an Internet lottery system for “hot-ticket” items 
  • Communicate any updated information with customers waiting in-line to prevent agitation. 

Emergency Situations 

  • Do not restrict egress, and never block or lock exit doors 
  • Keep first-aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available, and have personnel trained in using these tools on-site 
  • Instruct employees, in the event of an emergency, to follow instructions from authorized first responders 

Technology can also be a valuable tool for managing crowds during a Black Friday sale. A corporate safety app can help retailers engage directly with employees throughout the holiday season, providing, resources, safety assistance, and two-way communications. The app enables employees contact any department via text if needed, as well as receive geo-targeted push notifications throughout the day. 

Equipped with an emergency call button, employees will also be able to directly connect to 9-1-1 or security during an emergency. If a customer is becoming agitated or violent, the user can connect with security on-site or reach out to first-responders for medical assistance.The app will also provide first responders with location data, which can be critical during a situation with overcrowding. During an emergency, the app can reduce response time, further reducing the risk of employee injury. 

Corporate Safety App Guardian Demo

Ways to Enhance Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties

October 29, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Hospital The case study of the tragic 2017 Las Vegas shooting provides multiple examples of how healthcare organizations can enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties. One of the key takeaways is that the responses could have been much improved with better communication systems in place.

On October 1st, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival from the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel. Within ten minutes he had fired 1,100 rounds of ammunition into the crowd - killing 58 people and wounding 422. A further 371 people were injured trying to escape the incident.

Emergency response to the incident was complicated by more than 22,000 concertgoers - many with life-threatening injuries - fleeing the scene in different directions. Most of the injured made their own way to area hospitals or medical centers, while paramedics treated those incapacitated by their injuries in twenty different locations across metropolitan Las Vegas covering four square miles.

How Nevada's Hospitals Had Prepared for Mass Casualty Emergencies

Since 2011, Nevada's Division of Public and Behavioral Health has maintained and updated a Medical Surge Plan (PDF) as part of its emergency preparedness planning. The plan aligns with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) for all-hazard emergency planning, and outlines phases of activation, along with the role each entity plays in executing the plan.

Related Blog: A Day in the Life of a Hospital Emergency Manager

The plan is comprehensive inasmuch as it lays out the responsibilities for each healthcare facility, emergency service or law enforcement agency, local health authority, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, and Nevada's Division of Emergency Management through the four phases of activation. The plan was often tested via drills prior to the shooting incident, and updated as necessary.  

The plan also explains which internal and external systems should be used for communications between paramedics, dispatchers, medical facilities, emergency operation centers, and incident command posts. Back-up systems are also listed for events in which - for example - cellphone networks are overloaded or Internet-based communications are unavailable.

Why Nevada's Planned Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties Didn't Work

It's not entirely accurate to claim Nevada's planned hospital preparedness for mass casualties didn't work at all. Indeed, many elements of it were executed successfully. However, due to the unprecedented scale of the incident, the case study of the Las Vegas shooting - “A Day Like No Other” - found multiple shortcomings and lessons to be learned. These included:

The Rate at in Which Victims Arrived at Hospitals

Medical facilities were totally unprepared for the rate at which victims arrived and the random nature of their injuries. At one stage there was a queue of cars a quarter of a mile long outside one hospital carrying both victims with life-threatening injuries and those that had suffered minor abrasions.

The Rate at Which Medical Staff Arrived at Hospitals

As news of the shooting spread, many medical staff arrived at their places of work to provide help without being called in. This was described by the case study as both a blessing and a curse as it raised concerns about staffing levels for later shifts. Excess staff told to go home reported feeling “unwanted”.

Hospital Environmental Services were Understaffed

While there was an excess of medical staff, hospital environmental services (EVS) were understaffed due to hospital call lists being primarily comprised of medical personnel. This created concerns about cross-contamination due to medical equipment being reused without being disinfected.

Both Medical and Non-Medical Supplies Ran Low

As the shooting occurred on a Sunday night, most medical facilities were at minimal Periodic Automatic Replenishment ahead of a delivery of supplies on Monday morning. However, it was not only medical supplies that ran low. Hospitals reported shortages of basic equipment such as pens and tags.

Call Lists and Phone Trees were not Up-to-Date

The Medical Surge Plan calls for healthcare facilities to update their call lists “quarterly or annually”. This created a problem with both internal and external communications because many numbers had changed or individuals had dropped their landline services in favor of mobile services.

The shortcomings and lessons to be learned were no reflection of the efforts of managers and healthcare professionals who did everything they could to tend for the injured and dying. Several individuals received bravery awards for treating victims at the site, while multiple events were held once the emergency was over to thank healthcare professionals for their efforts.

How Better Communication Can Enhance Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties

The case study dedicates a significant amount of space to how better communications could enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties. In the context of the issues raised above, the case study notes there was no individual with responsibility for alerting entities to the shooting, the scale of the shooting, or the likely rate at which victims would arrive at hospitals.

Had there been a dedicated channel of two-way communication providing a reliable source of information, this could have helped dispel rumors multiple assailants were active and multiple venues were being targeted. It would have also helped overcome the issue of updates not being received due to multi-purpose channels being overrun by enquiries from law enforcement and concerned relatives.

Related Blog: How Denver Health Improved its Emergency Notification System

The issue of shift management could have been better handled by implementing an alerting system with geo-polling capabilities. This could have been used to prevent excess medical staff arriving at hospitals or to redirect them to other medical facilities that were acting as temporary trauma units. It could also have been used to call in EVS personnel or share supplies updates with neighboring facilities.

One further way in which healthcare authorities can enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties is to implement a multi-modal communication system that synchronizes with personnel and other databases to ensure contact information is constantly refreshed. The system's communication database can then be segmented into groups according to role, location, or other attribute.

Healthcare organizations reviewing their hospital preparedness for mass casualties are invited to get in touch and speak with our team of safety experts about solutions to address the shortcomings and lessons to be learned identified by the Las Vegas shooting case study. Our team will be happy to discuss existing communication strategies and how the suite of Rave Mobile Safety solutions can help healthcare organizations better prepare for a mass casualty incident.

Universal - Product Rave Alert Healthcare

How Cost-Effective are Physical Security Solutions in the Workplace?

October 29, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

workplace security cameraA business can spend a lot of money protecting its property and personnel from criminal activities; and, depending on the nature of the business, some investments are more effective than others. We discuss the effectiveness of some common physical security solutions in the workplace, and suggest options to enhance their cost-effectiveness.

If your business is in the agriculture industry, it makes good sense to erect a perimeter fence to prevent criminals driving onto your land with the intention of stealing crops and livestock, and to stop animals wandering off-site. However, for most other types of business, spending money on a perimeter fence may turn out to be an ineffective use of a security budget.

In order to be effective against vehicle penetration and cutting, you could easily spend upwards of $24 per linear foot to erect a perimeter fence - which would not only require a high level of maintenance, but will also have a finite life depending on the environment. Furthermore, a fence eight feet in height can be scaled in seconds by a fit criminal, even if the fence is topped with barbed wire.

Therefore, for most businesses, perimeter fencing is no more than a boundary marker and should not be considered a security measure unless a risk assessment identifies the need for one. More practical solutions identified by a risk assessment would include alarm systems, CCTV systems, security guards, and panic buttons; but these may not be cost-effective in all scenarios.

Alarm Systems have Advantages and Disadvantages

Most businesses are subject to OSHA's fire safety rules and have a fire alarm system installed. It also makes good sense to have a silent intruder alarm connected to the local police department. Naturally silent alarms for emergency incidents that occur during working hours are of no benefit to a business because employees won't hear them and they won't evacuate or start lockdown procedures.

alarmIn some environments, audible alarms don't get heard either. This is due to a phenomena known as “alarm fatigue” in which employees are so accustomed to hearing alarms that they subconsciously block them out and ignore them. This tends to happen a lot in the healthcare industry, but is also an important safety consideration in the construction, mining, and casino industries.

Basic commercial alarm systems for small businesses start at $200 plus installation. There is also usually a monthly fee starting at around $30. You can customize basic alarm systems to act as emergency notification systems, but - depending on the complexity of the system and the size of the business - the cost can run into many thousands of dollars. Consequently you need to consider whether it is cost-effective to extend a federally-mandated fire alarm system to meet your business's security needs.

CCTV can Reduce Some Criminal Activities, but Not All

CCTV systems are proven to be a deterrent to criminal activities such as theft, but - according to the UK's College of Policing - they have no effect on reducing violent crimes. This is because most workplace violence incidents happen “in the heat of the moment” and CCTV systems cannot stop crimes when they happen - unlike security guards (covered in the next section).

The exception to “heat of the moment” workplace violence is active assailants who deliberately set out to kill or injure their targets. According to the FBI, there has been a significant increase in active assailant events in workplaces in recent years. Not only are these increasing in number in environments generally open to the public (stores, malls, gas stations, etc.), but also in environments generally closed to pedestrian traffic (offices, factories, etc.).

Year

Nº of Open Business Shootings

Nº of Closed Business Shootings

% Closed

2014

4

2

33%

2015

6

3

33%

2016

4

3

42%

2017

6

4

40%

2018

9

7

44%

 

Therefore, if you are considering a CCTV system to protect employees from workplace violence, you are likely to spend between $100 and $600 per camera (depending on resolution, indoor/outdoor, etc.) with the only benefits being the deterrent factor, a possible reduction in worker-on-worker violence, and increased situational awareness during an event involving an active assailant or other intruder.

The Jury is Out on the Cost-Effectiveness of Security Guards

With the average hourly rate of an unarmed security guard being around $16.00, it would cost in excess of $140,000 per annum to have 24/7 security coverage of a premises - per guard. If a risk assessment suggests you need armed guards to protect your business´s property and personnel, the cost per annum increases to an average of $188,340 - again per guard.

It has been said that the presence of a security guard - armed or unarmed - can have a positive impact on the customer experience in retail environments, and that a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95 percent, so there's definitely a commercial reason for protecting your business's property and personnel with an armed guard - but is it cost-effective in terms of security?

The likely answer is yes if the presence of a security guard prevents an employee suffering a fatal injury; as, in 2017, the National Safety Council calculated the cost of a workplace fatality at $1,150,000. However, the presence of armed security guards did not prevent the high-profile school shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Santa Fe High School; so you have to consider whether the commercial benefits of this security measure justify the expense.

Related Blog: Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and  Beyond

The Cost-Effectiveness of Panic Buttons Depends on their Type

Whereas a large team of security guards will better protect your business's property and personnel from active assailants, and reduce the likelihood of Type III worker-on-worker violence (attributable for 15 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014), employing a large team of security guards will likely cost millions of dollars and it will be difficult to calculate their cost-effectiveness because you can't measure the impact of something that doesn't happen.

A compromise solution is to use panic buttons that alert the business's security team to an incident that requires their presence - or, in the event of an active assailant, fire, or medical incident, that connects the business to emergency services. However, wall-mounted or desk-mounted panic buttons can be difficult to access quickly during an emergency, so the current trend in workplace safety is to opt for Bluetooth-connected wearables or panic button mobile phone apps.

Of the two technologies, panic button mobile phone apps are the most reliable because their effectiveness does not rely on the employee being within range of a Bluetooth receiver. Furthermore, when an emergency requires the assistance of emergency services, 9-1-1 call dispatchers are able to determine the location of the caller from their mobile phone signal, rather than the location of the Bluetooth transmitter - which could be on the other side of a building.

How to Enhance the Cost Effectiveness of Physical Security Solutions in the Workplace

Technology has made a big difference to the cost-effectiveness of physical security solutions in the workplace. It is now possible to implement remotely-operated emergency notification systems that not only alert employees to an emergency via their mobile phones, but that also integrate with existing alarm systems to maximize the reach of emergency notifications, and integrate with CCTV systems to enhance situational awareness from a remote incident command center.

Whereas most workplace emergency notification systems are populated by integrating them with employee databases, some solutions also provide an option for visitors, agency workers, and contractors to opt into the emergency notification system via SMS. Our Rave Alert system  has geo-poll capabilities that make it possible to contact specific groups of employees to check on their wellbeing or to solicit their availability to cover vacant shifts in order to facilitate business continuity.

To further accelerate emergency responses, Rave Alert can be integrated with the Rave Panic Button mobile phone app and Rave Facility - a module of the Rave Suite of workplace security solutions that provides 9-1-1 call dispatchers with information about the business premises to better prepare emergency responders. To find out more about these solutions, or to schedule a free demonstration of the Rave Suite in action, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of workplace safety experts.

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Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions

October 25, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Balance

As the fiscal year-end approaches for many businesses, some departmental heads may be considering mirroring the actions of federal agencies and going on a spending spree to ensure budgets are maintained for next year. However, rather than waste money on toilet rolls and trombones, there are smarter year-end budgeting solutions.

The federal financial year runs from October to September; and, in the final month of every fiscal year, federal agencies go on a spending spree in order to prevent Congress believing they can operate on smaller budgets. In recent years, the scramble to spend what´s left in agencies' budgets has been chronicled by OpenTheBook.com; and among some of the more peculiar items recorded in 2018:

  • Six agency contracts worth a total of $799,220 were awarded for toilet paper
  • More than $4.6 million was spent on lobster and crab meat
  • The Department of Defense spent $163,636 on artists´ brushes and paint
  • In the final month of the fiscal year, $71,844 was spent on trombones.
  • The Executive Office of the President spent $119,265 on cameras and photos.
  • Federal agencies spent a combined total of $673,471 on golf carts - in one month!

Corporate America is a Little More Discrete about its Spending

Corporate America is not subject to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, and can therefore be a little more discrete about how it spends “use-it-or-lose-it” budgets. It is highly likely there are some very peculiar corporate purchases made as the year-end approaches - although probably not on the scale of what federal agencies spend to maintain their budgets.

Nonetheless, rather than waste money on highly-unnecessary and low-quality purchases to reduce budget surpluses, departmental heads could be investing funds wisely on smarter year-end budgeting solutions that not only protect budgets, but also protect the business's most vital assets - its employees. No matter how much or how little surplus is available, there is an employee safety solution to match.

The Three Levels of Smarter Year-End Spending on Employee Safety

To help evaluate the value of employee safety solutions, we have compared the costs of implementing different standards of solution with everyday office commodities that departmental heads may be tempted to stock up on in order to reduce budget surpluses. None of the solutions cost as much as a medically consulted injury to an employee - which was calculated in 2017 to be $39,000.

  1. A Year’s Worth of Extra Office Supplies for 10 People = A Mass Internal Alerting System
    The average cost of office supplies per employee is around $200, but taking $2,000 to provide an extra set of pens, paper, and sticky notes for about 10 employees could instead also be used to purchase a basic texting and email alerting system to enhance communication with employees.

    A basic texting and email alerting system would enable you to deliver pre-drafted SMS text or email messages to employees for common company-wide occurrences such as office closures due to severe weather or an IT system outage. Because a basic alerting system requires the employee contact information to be uploaded and maintained manually, the system is most convenient for small businesses or for departmental team managers. At the end of the day, the convenience of being able to send a mass notification through email and text message is of extreme value.
  1. 2,000 Additional Cups of Coffee = An Employee Alerting System with a Data Management Tool
    Let’s assume that an average cup of coffee costs $2.50. You could choose to spend $5,000 on 2,000 cups of coffee, or instead, you can invest in an employee alerting system to enable better communication through text message, email, and voice.

    The $5,000 spent will also include an automatic data management tool to easily load and maintain employee information. The employee alerting system with the automatic data management feature will work with any size business and minimizes communication efforts for managers, especially during a company-wide event or during an emergency situation.

  2. 5,217 More Rolls of Toilet Paper = Fully-Loaded Alerting and Two-Way Communication System
    Another way to spend extra funds is on something that is non-perishable and that you know will get used eventually is toilet paper. An average case of 36 toilet paper rollscosts $69, which means an office could spend around $10,000 for an extra 5,217 toilet paper rolls.

    For the same price of purchasing 144 extra cases of toilet paper, a business could invest in a fully-loaded alerting system, including:
     
    1. SMS text, email, and voice,
    2. A SmartLoader system for employee data,
    3. And the option to integrate two mobile application tools, such as Rave Panic Button and Rave Guardian:

Rave Panic Button: During a critical incident, such as an unprecedented workplace violence incident (find the latest workplace violence statistics) or an employee experiencing a medical emergency, the Rave Panic Button app allows designated employees to report the incident to 911 and send a mass notification to all on-site co-workers with the push of a button.

-  Rave Guardian: Rave Guardian is a personal safety app that serves as added protection for onsite or traveling employees or even field workers who might need extra help along the path to their destination.

Use Cases to Prove ROI for Safety Tools

Here are real examples of businesses investing extra funds in safety and communication tools for their employees, and how the organizations are putting these tools to good use:

GE Appliances (a Haier Company): Performing Employee Wellness Checks

GE Appliances, a Haier Company, optimized their pre-existing emergency notification system to go beyond sending severe weather alerts. During Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the GE Appliances security team used their alerting system to deliver messages to their employees through SMS text and email twice a day, prompting them to confirm if they were safe. You can hear directly from the GE Appliances security team featured in this past webinar.

Hear a snippet: GE Appliances shares lessons-learned during Hurricane Harvey and the importance of being proactive.

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor): Simplifying Emergency Communications

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor) is a long-time user of the Intermedix WebEOC solution for incident management, but when it came to sending out mass notifications to their employees, Fluor faced several inefficiencies. Sending out notifications required the sender to take several extra steps between two separate systems, which is why Fluor decided to transition to a WebEOC-friendly alerting system. Learn how this change gave Fluor a $189,000 return on investment.

Year-End Budgeting Solutions Done Right

Employee communication will always be an important part of your business, especially as it relates to urgent notifications. Using leftover year-end funds toward implementing safety and communication-enhancing tools that enable you to quickly and effectively deliver urgent notifications through multiple communication channels will be well worth the investment.

Corporate SMS Opt-In Solution

4 Trends in Corporate Risk Management

Emerging Trends in Corporate Risk Management

employee notification at credit union

Employee Notification at Michigan State University Credit Union

The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

October 22, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Quotes - Workplace SafetyWorkplace safety is top of mind. Businesses and companies are expected to provide a safe workplace environment free of known safety and health hazards. When a workplace is safe, employees feel more comfortable, productive, and are less likely to miss work. According to the National Safety Council, every 7 seconds a worker is injured on the job. That means 510 people are injured an hour, 12,600 a day, 88,500 a week, and a shocking 4,600,000 workers are injured every year.

In our 2018-2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report we were surprised to learn that 30% of respondents were unaware of their employers’ emergency preparedness plans for common types of workplace emergencies. There were higher percentages of respondents reported that even though there were emergency preparedness plans in place, these plans for severe weather events, medical emergencies, and cyberattacks were rarely or never tested. So, what can businesses do to protect their employees?

Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Quotes can be a great tool help keep your workers safe and promote safety in the workplace. Displaying safety quotes on bulletin boards, using them in memos, and featuring them in employee newsletters on a regular basis can keep employees focused on the importance of workplace safety. LoveToKnow tells us, “The key to using safety quotes effectively is to find ones that help you get your point across in a way that will be particularly meaningful to your employees, as well as easy to remember.”

We’ve found some great quotes from both Safety Culture and LoveToKnow. Here are our top 20 favorite workplace safety quotes:

  1. “Safety brings first aid to the uninjured.” – F.S. Hughes
  2. “Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen.” – Safety saying, early 1900’s
  3. “You don’t need to know the whole alphabet of Safety. The A, B, C of it will save you if you follow it: Always Be Careful.” – Colorado School of Mines Magazine
  4. “Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.” – Safety saying, early 1900’s
  5. “Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless.” – Author Unknown
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  6. “For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” – Eleanor Everet
  7. “Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.” – Author Unknown
  8. “An incident is just the tip of the iceberg, a sign of a much larger problem below the surface.” – Don Brown
  9. “Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.” – Author Unknown
  10. “At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” – Jodi Rell
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  11. "Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." – Jeff Cooper
  12. “Better a thousand times careful than once dead." – Proverb
  13. "Safety doesn't happen by accident." – Author Unknown
  14. "Work injuries and illnesses can affect every aspect of life for workers and their families." – Maine Department of Labor
  15. “You are your last line of defense in safety. It boils down to you.” – Kina Repp
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  16. “Luck runs out but safety is good for life.” – Author Unknown
  17. “It takes leadership to improve safety.” – Jackie Stewart
  18. "Your employees learn by example. If they don't see you practicing good safety habits, they won't think safety is important." – Electrical Construction & Maintenance
  19. “One earnest worker can do more by personal suggestion to prevent accidents than a carload of safety signs.” – Making Paper
  20. "Obedience is the mother of success and is wedded to safety." – Aeschylus
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National Safety Council: Injury Report

The National Safety Council released a workplace section of its Injury Facts database, which provides employers with trends and information on injuries according the EHS Today. “We are eight times safer at work than we are at home, but the data remind us that our workplaces could still be much safer,” said Ken Kolosh, NSC manager of statistics. “The numbers underscore the need for public awareness. We hope Injury Facts can help people understand the biggest risks to their safety and help employers understand where to focus their risk management efforts.”

Related Blog: Let the Games Begin: How to Gamify Safety at the Workplace

The new section includes these noteworthy workplace safety trends, which EHS outlined:

  • Women are disproportionately impacted by nonfatal workplace violence, with 70% of all assault-related injuries in the workplace occurring to females.
  • The construction industry continues to experience the most worker deaths, leading all industries with 959 fatalities in 2016.
  • Workplace injuries cost society $151 billion annually between lost productivity and wages, medical expenses and administrative expenses. The cost of a single workplace death is $1.12 million.
  • Injuries from falls to a lower level (48,060) and falls to the same level (141,600) are both trending down.
  • Overdoses from the non-medical use of drugs or alcohol while on the job increased from 165 in 2015 to 217 in 2016, a 32% increase.

Workplace Safety and Preparedness

Workplace safety is very important, no matter what industry. Although businesses and companies are required to protect their workers, it is also a moral responsibility to take care of employees. When somebody leaves for work, they expect to return home safe and sound. 

A safe work environment is a productive work environment. Employees should feel they are safe from workplace violence, natural disasters, fire threats, or medical emergencies when they step through the doors of their place of work. In late 2018 we conducted our second annual Workplace Safety and Preparedness survey in which over 540 surveys were completed by full-time employees across various industries in the U.S. The survey asked respondents about how safe they feel at work, and whether they believed their employer is prepared for an emergency.

Get your copy of our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report today!

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

5 Tips for a Successful Joint Commission Accreditation Survey

October 22, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

healthcare joint commission accreditation surveyThe Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that “accredits” more than twenty-two thousand healthcare organizations and healthcare programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards and therefore accreditation is highly sought and - once achieved - highly prized.

Because Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys are rarely announced in advance, accredited healthcare organizations and those pursuing accreditation need to be permanently prepared for a surprise visit. In this blog, we share five tips to help healthcare organizations pass accreditation surveys.

Learn More: What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

Healthcare organizations that achieve Joint Commission accreditation meet or surpass CMS’ standards for acceptance into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. So, although Joint Commission accreditation is not mandatory, many healthcare organizations apply for accreditation in order to prove they meet the standards required to receive payments from the federally funded programs.

What is a Joint Commission Accreditation Survey?

Healthcare organizations that apply to be accredited by the Joint Commission are inspected by trained and certified “surveyors” who are usually highly experienced doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, or other healthcare professionals depending on the services being provided by the healthcare organization. For example, if a laboratory has applied for Joint Commission accreditation, the inspection is carried out by a certified and experienced laboratory medical technologist.

During the inspection (or “survey”), surveyors randomly select patients’ medical records and use them as a roadmap to assess compliance with Joint Commission standards. The surveyors (there may be more than one per inspection) trace the patients’ experiences through their medical journeys by talking with staff who have interacted with the patients and the patients themselves. The environments in which the patients are cared for are also inspected to ensure compliance with relevant standards.

Once accreditation has been achieved, healthcare organizations have to self-monitor compliance with the Joint Commission’s standards and submit data every three months relating to issues such as how they treat conditions such as heart attacks and pneumonia. Repeat surveys take place at 18-36 month intervals, but healthcare organizations are not warned in advance when they will take place - hence the importance of always being prepared for a successful Joint Commission accreditation survey.

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It’s Not Possible to Prepare for an Accreditation Survey

Because healthcare organizations never know in advance when a Joint Commission accreditation survey will take place, the only way to prepare for an inspection is to maintain the Joint Commission’s standards all year though. However, this is not just a case of “keep doing what you are doing” and preventing bad habits from slipping in. The Joint Commission’s standards change each year as the organization strives to improve the standard of healthcare across the country.

The changes are published each year in the “Survey Activity Guide for Healthcare Organizations” under the “What’s New” section. Also included in the Guide are details of the inspection process (which vary according to the services provided by the healthcare organization), the documents each organization should have ready to demonstrate compliance to an inspector, and a checklist relating to health and safety measures. It is important healthcare organizations read and fully understand each year’s guide.

It is also important healthcare organizations train staff on emergency preparedness, data security, and HIPAA compliance. During the inspection, surveyors will not only ask staff about patient care. They will also ask about such things as communications during an emergency (in compliance with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule), intradepartmental and interdepartmental communications (i.e. hand offs), and access procedures for EMRs and other technologies (passwords, authentication, etc.).

5 Tips to Help Pass Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys

The following tips to help pass Joint Commission accreditation surveys might not apply to every type of healthcare organization in every circumstance. They are intended as a general guide that healthcare organizations can use to improve the likelihood of a successful survey and to achieve a better rating on the Joint Commission’s qualitycheck.org website.

Related Blog: How to Improve Hospital Patient Safety Grades

  1. Identify Discrepancies between the Guide and Current Practices
    Although the 2019 Survey Activity Guide is 120 pages in length, once you take out the areas that do not apply to your type of healthcare organization, it is simpler to identify discrepancies between the Joint Commission’s standards and current working practices. These discrepancies need to be remedied before a Joint Commission accreditation survey.

  2. Learn from Other Organizations' Failings
    Each year (usually around April), the Joint Commission publishes a list of the most frequently-cited failings from inspections during the previous year in its monthly “Perspectives” magazine. Often they have little to do with the standard of care provided by the healthcare organization, and are more likely attributable to the environment of care.

  3. Get Rid of Corridor Clutter
    In the event of an emergency, corridor clutter not only makes it harder to move patients, it can also hinder emergency response. The Joint Commission acknowledges that some medical equipment needs to be permanently accessible, but inspectors have previously found items such as laundry baskets obstructing corridors for hours.

  4. You Never Get a Second Opportunity to Make a Good First Impression
    In the Survey Activity Guide, a significant amount of attention is given to how an inspector should be greeted, how he or she should be identified, and how he or she should be accommodated. Make sure your organization’s “welcome team” are up-to-speed with the current recommendations, and always have ready a clean, Internet-connected office space from which the inspector(s) can work.

  5. Keep up-to-date with Joint Commission’s Current Hot Topics
    On the Joint Commission’s website, there is a frequently updated blog which is a good thermometer of the Joint Commission’s current “hot topics”. Recently the blog has covered such topics as improving health and safety in healthcare workspaces and protecting staff from workplace violence - implying that employee wellbeing may be incorporated into next year´s standards.

Improve Communication and Protect Employees

Throughout the Survey Activity Guide, there are many references to the importance of having good communication systems in place - not only for professionals to collaborate of patient care, but also for healthcare organizations to comply with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule. There will likely be more emphasis on communications if employee wellbeing is incorporated into next year´s standards.

Rave Mobile Safety is a leading developer of communication solutions for the healthcare industry. Our critical communications and response platform can improve patient care and resource coordination, help healthcare organization meet CMS mandates and requirements, and help prevent workplace accidents and workplace violence in order to keep employees safe. Contact us today to find out more.

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What Do Hospitals Do During Severe Weather Event Closings?

October 15, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

large hospital storm responseIn September of 2018, Hurricane Florence hit land and forced hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities in the Carolinas and Virginia to either prepare resources needed to stay open or begin preparations to close, as per CNN. Each individual facility had to make decisions based on storm predictions and resources.

In Charleston, South Carolina, location determined whether or not a hospital closed, canceled elective procedures or appointments, or resumed operations as normal during the storm. East Cooper Regional Medical Center, for example, had to cancel elective surgeries, but kept emergency rooms open to accept emergency patients. Roper St. Francis Hospital kept a main facility open, but closed express care and physician partner facilities because they were unable to meet the state’s “shelter in place” requirements. 

During a major storm or severe weather event, hospitals must decide between conducting an emergency evacuation or opting to shelter-in-place. According to OSHA, the decision is among the most important safety managers will make during an emergency. The organization defines evacuation as the immediate and urgent movement of people away from the threat or hazard. Shelter in-place requires taking refuge within a facility, waiting for instruction that the severe weather event passed or an evacuation order is placed instead. This poses a difficult question for hospitals in the direct path of severe weather threats, as not only are emergency rooms meant to provide ongoing care regardless of time or circumstance, evacuating patients can pose significant health risks. 

Related Blog: A Closer Look at Severe Weather Preparedness at a Large Hospital

So, what do hospitals do during severe weather event closings? Procedure may vary between states, and in many instances, hospitals opt to simplify operations down to the essentials, remaining open in case of emergencies or injuries sustained during the severe weather event. Medical facilities in the direct path of a storm may be required by the state to close, and should implement evacuation procedure. In order to ensure a smooth transition, an evacuation and closure plan should be in place ahead of time, and safety managers should be sure to communicate with physicians and staff throughout the process. 

What Is Severe Weather Event Closing Protocol In Healthcare? 

In order to manage the risks of closing a hospital during a severe weather event, communication is critical. When Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina, residents at Ansonborough House in Charleston, which was built to provide affordable housing to seniors, were forced to evacuate, according to NPR. This example of a facility represents many of the challenges hospitals or healthcare organizations face during emergency closures, including logistical challenges such as managing individuals healthcare needs and financial issues, as providing reliable transportation for patients can be costly. Some of the residents at Ansonborough House struggled with a variety of chronic medical conditions requiring routine care, including people who need dialysis or chemotherapy, as well as medication to treat cardiovascular disease. 

For this reason, a major concern during a closure or evacuation should be vulnerable residents who cannot be relocated to natural disaster shelters. In 2017, a study titled “Mortality in Nursing Homes Following Emergency Evacuation” found that moving older, frail patients can be bad for health, and safety managers should take medical conditions into transportation and shelter preparations.

Related Blog: What are Common Communication Systems in Healthcare?

During Hurricane Florence, patients at Tidelands Waccamaw, Tidelands Georgetown, and Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital were forced to evacuate. Patients moved to other hospitals in the area via ambulance, medical bus, or by helicopter, as per CNN. Physicians accompanied patients to ensure they received appropriate care, while a “skeleton crew” rode out the storm at two locations along with patients too sick to evacuate. 

If safe, a small crew at a hospital location during a closure can monitor patients unable to make the move. If possible, these patients and physicians will move to an area of the facility that is storm-proof. After a storm passes, the physicians and staff managing operations can help the facility resume operations as swiftly as possible. Physicians should collaborate with safety managers to make the best judgement about who is capable of moving to another facility, which mode of transport is most appropriate, and whether or not staff can shelter-in-place throughout the storm.

Unfortunately, many of the regions susceptible to Atlantic hurricanes are also popular retirement locations, meaning there’s a large population of older adults. Even more troubling, slow-moving, wet storms are becoming more common amid climate change, which can be particularly frustrating for hospitals, as they linger for days increasing financial, physical, and emotional tax, according to NPR.  

Provide advance warning if a hospital or healthcare closure seems likely. If residents need to set up an appointment, seek care ahead of a storm or before an evacuation order is issued is ideal. Make sure residents understand how to check the website for the facility they're going to first, or call ahead, as circumstances can change quickly during a severe weather emergency and it may not be possible to seek care at certain locations. If safety managers communicate closures and evacuations to residents as quickly as possible, they will be able to prepare if they need to be admitted to a hospital or other healthcare facility. 

How To Communicate Hospital Closure Protocol

During Hurricane Florence, Medical University of South Carolina used a mass notification system to communicate with over 23.000 community members as the severe weather event developed. During the severe weather event, which eventually became a tropical storm, all members of the community, including students, faculty, hospital officials, doctors, nurses, students on hospital rotation, employees working at the campuses’ various clinics or practices, and contracted employees, received updates throughout the storm. The campus focused on transportation - since the main campus was on the Charleston Peninsula, the community was able to find out which buses or shuttles were running or delayed due to flooding, which further helped the hospital and university continue to provide service throughout the severe weather event. 

During a storm, wildfire, or other severe weather event, safety managers should communicate to residents any changes in healthcare availability. Often, traveling to seek care may be risky and it is critical people only seek hospital care during a storm in true emergencies. It’s also important for health care providers to plan ahead with patients, physicians, and staff to keep monitoring the right. A mass notification system can be a powerful tool for hospitals to manage both internal and external emergency communications, as demonstrated by MUSC during Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence Mass Notification

5 Ways You Didn't Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

October 15, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

mass notification person using cell phoneMost businesses are aware the five most common ways of how to alert employees in an emergency are fire alarms, PA systems, SMS alerts, digital signage, and pager systems. However, not every business is aware of the full potential of these systems and how they can be used to better alert employees in an emergency.

The Most Effective Way to Alert Employees: Mass Notifications

When a disaster or threat strikes, communicating with your employees is the most efficient way to get the word out, whether the office is closing due to a power outage or there is an active assailant on the premises. Mass notification systems can quickly get information to employees via SMS, email, phone call, and more, which could ultimately save a life. You can implement systems that integrate with each other to cover almost every eventuality, but sometimes even the broadest mass notification approach isn’t 100 percent effective.

Aware of this, some mass notification platforms have been designed with additional capabilities. These capabilities are not new methods of contacting employees, because there’s a reason why the five most common ways of how to alert employees in an emergency are the five most common - they work. Instead, these capabilities can increase the effectiveness of emergency alerts sent via existing systems.

Related Blog: Could Your Business Answer “Yes” to Eight or More Emergency  Preparedness Questions?

5 Ways You Didn’t Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

1. Multi-Lingual Emergency Alerts

When selecting a mass notification system, a great option to look for among the messaging preferences is a multi-lingual feature. This gives employees an opportunity to select the language in which they would like to receive emergency alerts. For an employee whose first language is not English, this way of alerting employees in an emergency could make the difference between them understanding the alert or not.

2. Social Media Emergency Alerts

It is hard to conceive a scenario in which, with alarms sounding and digital signage flashing, an employee would refer to their Facebook page to find out what’s going on; but there is a benefit of sending emergency alerts to employees via social media inasmuch as it is possible to place a link on a social media post to a webpage which explains the procedures for dealing with each type of emergency.

Naturally, there are some emergencies - i.e. a cyberattack - in which a social media post would not be appropriate. Nonetheless, a link to a webpage illustrating evacuation routes or the location of emergency supplies could be invaluable to a new employee who has not undergone emergency preparedness training, or to a temporary worker unfamiliar with the layout of the premises.

3. Short-Form & Long-Form Alerts

There are times when limitations on the number of characters allowed mean it is not possible to communicate the full details of an emergency in an SMS alert. You could include a tiny URL in the SMS alert that takes employees to an explanatory webpage similar to as mentioned above, but this may not be of any benefit to an employee with an older 3G mobile device or small screen phone.

Choosing an emergency notification system that allows administrators to prepare templates in both short-form and long-form formats is extremely helpful. Short-form alerts can be sent via SMS, while long-form alerts can be sent by email, so that an employee with an older 3G device or small screen phone can access their emails to read more about the emergency, the best evacuation route, or the location of emergency supplies.

4. Alerting Employees in Sequential Order

Depending on the nature of the emergency, it may not be appropriate to send a mass alerts to every employee simultaneously. The option to segment employee databases by role, location, or other attribute means that businesses can alert just those groups of employees who are affected by the emergency; or, in a developing event, evacuate in stages rather than en masse.

Being able to alert employees in an emergency sequentially or in groups can mitigate business disruption and help businesses recover quicker from an incident. Scenarios in which this capability might be put to use include alerting employees in one part of a business campus to a fire, or ordering a lockdown in some buildings due to an active assailant while ordering an evacuation in other buildings.

5. Alerting Employees Remotely

Even though businesses can alert employees in an emergency with two clicks of a mouse, having a remote option gives administrators the opportunity to send alerts safely from a mobile device away from their desktop computers. It also gives incident managers the opportunity to send updates remotely during an emergency, or sound the all clear.

The remote way to alert employees in an emergency can save employees time and money as well as enhancing their safety. For example, if a business was to experience a cyberattack overnight, a system administrator could log into their mass notification platform from their home and advise employees not to commute to the workplace or log into corporate accounts remotely until the attack is resolved.

Can You Think of Further Ways How to Alert Employees in an Emergency?

If you can think of further ways how to alert employees in an emergency, we would love to know. Rave Mobile Safety is always striving to improve our own Rave Alert platform in order to save businesses time and money, and ultimately save employees’ lives.

If you’re interested in trying out the Rave Alert platform, which includes the above features and capabilities, please consider signing up for our free trial option.

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Let the Games Begin: How to Gamify Safety at the Workplace

October 8, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

gamification workplace safetyWe’re all too familiar with the safety trainings businesses across the United States require employees to take annually. They can range from workplace bullying and safety to active shooter trainings to cybersecurity to sexual harassment. Although they’re all important and necessary trainings, they may not be a priority during a busy work day and can be considered relatively boring. As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your workforce which means you must provide information, instruction, and training to guarantee everybody stays safe.

The Importance of Workplace Safety Training

Depending on what kind of company you work for there could be many more required trainings necessary to ensure employee safety. For example, the construction industry has OSHA required trainings that must be upheld, as workers are exposed to more safety and health risks on the job when compared to the risks you may see at a corporate desk job.

Related Blog: 4 Ways to Use Mass Notification to Promote Workplace Safety

Hazards are unescapable to all industries, which is why it’s essential for any organization to make provisions for safety trainings and update safety programs on a regular basis. The main goal of safety training is to keep employees safe from injury, illness, or death.

There are many other benefits of workplace safety trainings, which include the following from Tutorials Point:

  • Educate employees on the basics of health and safety
  • Increased focus by employees on their tasks
  • Increased job pleasure and confidence among employees
  • Increased employee inspiration
  • Increased effectiveness in processes, deriving in financial gain
  • Increased ability to adopt new skills and methods
  • Increased change in scheme and products
  • Decrease in employee turnover
  • Increase company image, e.g., conducting ethics training
  • Risk management, e.g., training about sexual harassment, diversity training.
  • Increased productivity and satisfaction among personnel by keeping the workplace safe

Workplace Safety Training and Gamification

Although the benefits are clearly noted above, workplace safety trainings can often be quite lengthy and dull to get through. This is where gamification come in. Insured Solutions Inc. explains, “Gamification is the concept of motivating employees or making learning more fun by turning it into a game.” Taking the sometimes-boring workplace safety trainings and turning them into more of a game can make it fun for employees to get through the mandatory tests and quizzes while still learning and staying up-to-date on workplace safety.

Related Blog: The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

There are some simple ways to gamify workplace safety. Below are a few examples your company could implement:

  1. Creating a Points System
    Although this is a simple resolution, it’s one that works. Creating a points system means awarding employees with points when they do things in a certain way. Applying this to workplace safety could include offering workers points for completing safety trainings, reviewing workplace safety standards, and participating in workplace safety evaluations.

  2. Team Based Performance
    Encouraging your team to reach a certain number of days without a safety hazard or incident is a good way to get everybody involved in workplace safety together. To gamify, Insured Solutions Inc. recommends having your team compete against their last performances, or earn badges for milestones along the way.

  3. Tracking Goals
    Every business has certain safety goals and gamification can help you reach them. For example, consider creating safety targets as opposed to sales targets which can be rewarded within your game.

  4. Rewarding Safety Education
    Online workplace safety quizzes and evaluations can be tedious, but gamifying them by allowing employees to win tokens to apply or redeem for a prize is a good way to ensure your employees are making an effort to learn about workplace safety.

Gamification can be successfully implemented in the workplace by rewarding employees for educating themselves on safety hazards as well as preventing safety incidents.

Gamification Technology

Technology is continually changing and improving as time moves forward. Simcoach Games is a company that is gamifying workplace trainings for companies in the manufacturing and construction fields. With many workplace injuries occurring in these industries due to the higher risks employees face, this company has come up with easy games to help those individuals prepare for the hazards they could encounter.

Enhesa explains one of the games, Harness Hero, was designed to reduce the significant number of construction injuries and deaths that are caused by falls. “The game is designed with short lengths of play, a series of challenges, and best of all for employers, tests to see if the player is learning. At the end of each mission, after the player has inspected the digitized equipment for flaws, the digital worker is pushed off a digital building. If the player did well, the digital worker is saved. If not…well, this is the great thing about digitizing occupational health and safety training: while the player gets to test themselves on their real life-saving knowledge with real scenarios presented to them, there is no risk of bodily harm.”

Making mistakes in a virtual place can help employees understand how important the safety procedures are in protecting them day-to-day. Employers also have the ability to track the progress of their employees as they learn and practice safety procedures, and address those who are not advancing to moderate safety concerns before they move from the digital space to the workplace.

Workplace Safety Technology

Mass notification systems and anonymous tip software are two other technologies that can improve workplace safety in case of an emergency. Sending out alerts to employees including incident updates and instructions on how to respond to an emergency helps workers stay informed and up-to-date on workplace safety procedures. Employees can utilize anonymous tip software to inform others of safety hazards or coworkers who may be a safety hazard themselves.

Communication is key in case of an emergency, and key to keeping employees safe. Check out our 2019 report below to learn how companies are preparing for workplace safety with technology.

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

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