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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

What Should Your Office “Go Bag” Contain for Emergencies?

October 1, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

office emergency kitThe recommended contents of an office go bag can vary according to the location of your workplace, how you commute to work, and the distance between your workplace and your home. The nature of the contents can also be influenced by your safety role in the business or in the community.

According to the Department of Homeland Security's “Ready” campaign, you should keep “go bags” (also known as “grab bags”, “bug out bags”, or “survival kits”) in your home, in your car, and in your workplace because you never know where you will be when an emergency occurs. The Department's “Build a Kit” web page provides valuable information about what a basic go bag should consist of, plus lists additional supplies to consider if you have pets, children, or elderly family members.

Unfortunately, it is not practical to keep every recommended item in an office go bag. Not only might the bulk of so many items hinder your escape in a mass workplace evacuation (especially if colleagues are trying to evacuate with their own bulky go bags), it may also be difficult to store a number of large go bags in an office environment. Consequently, we have compiled a list of considerations to take into account when putting together a personal go bag for your workplace.

What Emergencies are You Preparing For?

Different parts of the country experience different types of emergencies. With regards to severe weather emergencies, the charity ICNA Relief has created a map (below) dividing the country into ten geographical areas according to the type of natural disaster each location is most susceptible to. With regards to man-made disasters, you should assess what threats might affect your workplace (i.e. environmental threats, criminal threats, infrastructure threats, etc.) and plan accordingly.


How you commute to work and the distance between your workplace and your home will also affect what items go into your office go bag. If you drive to the office, and your car is parked a few paces outside the office building, you can place more items into your car go bag and fewer into your office go bag - taking into account a “stay-in-place” order during an environmental disaster or long-term hostage situation that might not be resolved within twenty-four hours.

Even if you commute to work using public transport, it may be possible to put fewer items in your office go bag if your home go bag is less than one hour's walk away. In this case, comfortable walking shoes may be essential, as might be a map and compass if you are unfamiliar with the route. It may not be possible to rely on your smartphone's mapping system if there is a widespread power outage, but uploading a torch app onto your smartphone will save you packing a torch in your go bag. 

Why Your Safety Role May Make a Difference

If you have been assigned the role of a workplace safety officer or are a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the contents of your office go bag might be a lot different from those of your colleagues. Depending on your business's emergency preparedness plan, you may have the responsibility for organizing emergency response, ensuring the wellbeing of colleagues, liaising with emergency responders, and communicating with state and local public health departments.

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

In this scenario, it is recommended to have more than a basic smartphone in your office go bag. You will likely need something more advanced (i.e. a latest generation tablet or iPad) plus a spare power supply or a solar-powered charger with a high Wh output. Spare power supplies and solar chargers are not particularly expensive, but they will take up space in your go bag which might mean sacrificing other items. It is not advisable to keep important communication tools in your car.

If you are a member of a CERT team, your go bag will be more geared towards helping others than self-survival. Depending on the requirements of your local team organizer, it may be necessary to pack a reflective vest, hard hat, heavy duty gloves, safety googles, and a fully-equipped trauma kit (rather than a first aid kit). Again, communication plays a big part in community disaster response, so it is recommended your pack also includes a quality mobile device and a back-up power source.

Good Communication Can Improve the Chances of Surviving an Emergency

In all types of emergency events, timely warnings and access to information can increase survival rates. For this reason many organizations use business emergency communication solutions to reach, engage, and protect employees when seconds count. As well as being a reliable mass notification tools, our solutions can improve situational awareness for incident managers in order that resources are prioritized for where they are most needed and where they will be most effective.

To find out more, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer your questions and organize a demonstration of our business emergency communication solutions in action. The opportunity also exists for your business to take a free trial of our solutions to evaluate them in your own environment. To find out more, and to arrange your initial demonstration, contact us today.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

OSHA Issued Wildfire Policy For Corporations

September 24, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

firefighterIn 2018, California struggled to provide appropriate emergency response to residents during an unprecedented wildfire season. Multiple wildfire systems burned across the state, including the Camp Fire, which decimated the town of Paradise, the Woolsey Fire in the west of Los Angeles, and the Hill Fire in Ventura County, as per the New York Times.The 2018 wildfire season became one of the most destructive and deadly in California history, prompting safety managers across the state to ask new questions about appropriate wildfire preparedness, evacuation practices, and emergency response.

Amid climate change and the “new normal”, a comprehensive safety plan that accounts for wildfire risks is essential for any business in an area susceptible to wildfires. In November of 2018, OSHA issued a new wildfire policy for corporations to better protect individuals from health and safety risks, including how to implement appropriate evacuation orders and plan for smoke hazards. Cal/OSHA also formalized an emergency regulation titled “Protection From Wildfire Smoke”, which aims to protect both indoor and outdoor workers from smoke exposure. The legislation requires employers to check the workplace Air Quality Index, and communicate any potential risks to employees. 

According to the New York Times, although many wildfires are man-made, some wildfires have been caused by negligence from corporations. For example, back in 2015 a tree that PG & E failed to maintain hit a power line, sparking a fire that covered over 700,000 acres and left two people dead. In 2018, near Paradise, a live-wire broke free from an electrical tower that was well past use, which caused a catastrophic wildfire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and killed 85 people. This was the most destructive wildfire in California history. The company’s inattention to safety hazards emphasizes the need for corporations to understand and evaluate wildfire risks. By using best safety practices to look out for their own employees they will also be taking care of those living in the surrounding communities. 

Related Article: How California's Disaster Communication Plan Failed Residents  During Deadly Wildfires

Corporations are responsible for employee safety during any severe weather emergency, whether it is a hurricane or a wildfire. Employers are required to protect workers from anticipated fire hazards and deploy effective preparedness, response, and recovery practices. For employers, guidance is readily available on the OSHA website. No business is the same, which means each workplace is likely to have their own individual needs or challenges. Following a basic outline can help any corporation in crafting an emergency plan which complies with OSHA wildfire policy. 

What Is OSHA Wildfire Policy For Corporations?

OSHA guidelines encourage corporations to prioritize both preparedness or prevention measures, as well as have strong response and recovery plans in place. The OSHA website explains that with preparedness companies are able to put together comprehensive evacuation plans, establish safety zones around buildings, and invest in the appropriate equipment to have on hand should a wildfire occur. For response/recovery, the OSHA urges employers to understand the hazards in areas that are susceptible to wildfires. These include structural issues, such as building collapse or equipment operation risks, as well as health hazards, such as heat stress or respiratory distress. 

Evacuation plans are essential for corporations, and putting a plan in place before a wildfire occurs can further avoid confusion. OSHA recommends a thorough evacuation plan should include the following: 

  • Clear, communicable conditions that require evacuation 
  • Chain of command, and understanding of who will perform emergency functions. 
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits 
  • Procedures to account for all employees, customers, or visitors 
  • Equipment is on hand for personnel to help evacuate if needed
  • Run drills and practice evacuations with employees often so procedure is clear and effective 
  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons or skills learned during practice evacuation 

Communication is key when it comes to evacuation procedures, and employers should leverage every tool possible to make sure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency. OSHA also recommends taking additional preventative measures to minimize risk in addition to a well-established evacuation plan. Creating a “safety-zone” by removing combustible materials, in other words those items which are not fire-proof or safe, as well as removing vegetation around your business, can help further protect people and property. OSHA recommends a 30-foot safety zone. New call-to-action

In the days, weeks, and months following a wildfire, employers must make careful considerations. If an area is deemed unsafe, employers should implement practical changes to work procedures or schedules. This could mean changing the location employees work in or reducing the amount of time spent outside. If possible, modify the workplace to reduce exposure to toxic air-quality, such providing enclosed structures or vehicles with filtered air. Keep employees informed of the potential hazards following a wildfire, which can include, electrical malfunction, carbon monoxide poisoning, extreme heat, respiratory issues, or downed electrical wires. 

Cal/OSHA also recommends employers take particular care during wildfire clean-up. Risks for first responders and outdoor employees tasked with wildfire clean-up are high, and these continue long after the blaze is extinguished. Smoke from wildfires contain chemicals, gasses, and fine particles which can harm health. For this reason both proper equipment and training are necessary for worker safety in wildfire regions. OSHA offers recommendations for employers about how to properly utilize N95 masks, also known as disposable respirators, which can protect employees from a degree of respiratory distress. 

Leveraging Technology To Improve Wildfire Response 

Technology has and will continue to play a large role in wildfire response. In June, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would partner with U.S. Department of Defense for wildfire response, which includes the use of drones and military satellites to detect and respond to fire outbreaks. California also made a commitment to better emergency communications during the wildfire season. In the past, the state has failed to implement effective notification systems, and many of the victims of the Paradise fire were unaware of evacuation orders or other potential risks. Officials in the state have also struggled to maintain an access and functional needs database, which lets first responders help vulnerable populations during a wildfire, such as the elderly or  individuals with disabilities. 

Related Blog: California Is Starting To Use Military Technology To Fight Fires

For employers, technology can play a big role in wildfire response. A mass notification system can be a powerful tool for corporations to communicate with employees during a severe weather emergency. The system can keep individuals informed of evacuation orders, changes to work schedules due to risks, and changes in the Air Quality Index, which will reduce exposure to harmful toxins due to wildfire smoke and comply with OSHA’s “Protection From Wildfire Smoke” Act. The system can take on a critical role during evacuation proceedings - not only can the tool communicate the risks and provide updates as the situation develops, it can also help employers communicate best-practices for evacuation to employees before the emergency occurs. This functionality allows employers to use mass notification to better prepare and train employees in areas where wildfire risks are high. 

A geo-poll system can also be a valuable tool for employers during wildfire season. The capability allows a business to perform wellness checks before, during, and after a wildfire emergency. Corporations can solicit requested information, such as whether or not an employee is safe from smoke exposure or their location, via SMS text, voice-call, or email. Poll data can be used to better target emergency response for employees, or to understand safety status.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

In Light of the El Paso Walmart Shooting, What Are Businesses’ Responsibilities to Protect Customers from Active Shooters?

September 17, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

busy store people shoppingThe El Paso Walmart shooting in August was the deadliest in the company's history. Twenty-two customers died, and a further twenty-four were injured in the tragic event - raising questions about businesses’ responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters.

On August 3rd, Patrick Crusius entered the Walmart Supercenter in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire using a legally-owned semi-automatic WASR-10 rifle. Twenty-two customers died in the attack, which was later described by the FBI as an act of domestic terrorism, and a further twenty-four were injured - some of whom have filed legal action against Walmart for failing to adequately protect customers. But what are businesses’ responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters?

Related Blog: A Growing Interest In Active Shooter Insurance For Business

The first thing to note is that businesses do not have an absolute duty of care to protect customers from hazards. This means businesses only need implement measures to protect customers if a hazard is “reasonably foreseeable”, and - should a reasonably foreseeable hazard or hazardous event occur - businesses have a reasonable amount of time to resolve the hazard or address the hazardous event. In this respect, Walmart appears to have fulfilled its duty of care in the context of the El Paso shooting.

Walmart’s Duty of Care and Response in El Paso

Some of the injured have complained the El Paso store did not have armed security guards on duty whereas other Walmart stores do. It is true that Walmart stores in high crime areas are patrolled by armed security guards, but - according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report statistics for the one hundred most populated cities in America - El Paso ranks 76th for violent crimes. The likelihood is that Walmart's risk assessment did not identify an active shooter in El Paso as a reasonably foreseeable hazard.

When the event did occur, Walmart’s response is difficult to fault. Due to quarterly active shooter training provided by the company, staff reacted immediately to the “Code Brown” alert and guided hundreds of customers to safety - significantly reducing the number of casualties. The emergency communication system also alerted law enforcement to the incident, who arrived with six minutes - almost half the average time it takes for a police response to an active shooter event.

Could Walmart Have Done More to Protect Customers?

Without placing armed security guards throughout the store, it is difficult to see how Walmart could have done more to protect customers in El Paso. The act of violence was conducted in a relatively safe location by an individual who had travelled 650 miles to commit the atrocity, staff were well-trained in how to react in such a situation, and communication between the store and law enforcement was faster than average. Nonetheless, Walmart has said it is reviewing its customer protection policies.

It’s worth highlighting Walmart’s communication system with law enforcement because, just days before the tragic events in El Paso, a suspended Walmart employee walked into the company’s store in Southaven, Mississippi, and killed two of his managers. He was prevented from any further killing by armed police officers who arrived within three minutes of 9-1-1 being alerted to the active shooter event. Unfortunately, one police officer was injured in the subsequent exchange of fire.

Saving Minutes Saves Lives When an Active Shooter Event Occurs

In 2012, a study of active shooter events by NYC Police Department (PDF) revealed only 16% of the 230 active shooter incidents reviewed ended without “applied force”. A subsequent study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PDF) calculated law enforcement arrives in time to stop half of active shooter events, and the FBI’s Active Shooter Incidents Report 2018 shows 17 of 27 incidents that year ended on the arrival of first responders or due to the attacker being shot by law enforcement officers.

Related Blog: 60% of Active Shooter Incidents in 2018 Occurred in Businesses

Although none of the reports speculates how many lives were saved by timely responses, it is obvious that the smaller a window of opportunity an active shooter has, the fewer number of lives he or she can take. Therefore, even if a business´s risk assessment shows a negligible likelihood of an active shooter event, it can be worthwhile investing in a communications system similar to the one used in Walmart in order to alert staff and 9-1-1 simultaneously to an active shooter in the minimum possible time.

Accelerating Emergency Responses with Panic Button Technology

Companies are starting to evaluate the technologies they have in place to protect employees and customers in the event of an active shooter threat. Panic button applications are a way to instantly connect with first responders and law enforcement allowing them to respond faster to a shooter incident.

The Rave Panic Button is a mobile phone app with advanced capabilities that accelerate emergency response to many different types of incident. Using the app, a member of staff can alert 9-1-1 and colleagues simultaneously to the nature and location of an emergency with two taps of a smartphone screen. The app´s ease of use eliminates panicked or confused calls to 9-1-1 that can delay emergency responses while ensuring that the correct emergency service is dispatched without delay.

To better prepare first responders for an incident, and enhance situational awareness during an incident, Rave Panic Button integrates with other safety and security installations - including the Rave Facility platform. To find out more about the Rave Panic Button’s capabilities, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to organize a demo of Rave Panic Button in action to show how it can enhance your business’s responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters.

Panic Button Video CTA

A Growing Interest In Active Shooter Insurance For Business

September 10, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

active shooter insuranceA mass shooting is defined as an attack in which 3 or more people are killed by a firearm. This year the United States has seen a shocking 38 mass shootings or active shooter incidents, according to the New York Times. In August alone, the number of victims of mass shootings in the country totaled 53. The loss of life was felt greatly in Texas, where on August 31st, a gunman in Odessa began shooting indiscriminately at cars, killing 5 people. The incident devastated a state already reeling from a recent gun-related tragedy. Earlier in the month, on August 3rd, a massacre at a Wal-Mart in El Paso left 22 people dead, making it one of the most deadly attacks in the state. These mass shootings are raising new concerns about how best to protect businesses.

In a country already on edge amid rising incidents of gun violence, recent attacks have raised new anxieties and questions about public safety. Public and private corporate spaces are struggling to address gun-related risks, and discern how best to support employees following a tragedy of this magnitude. The shooting in El Paso, Texas, raised new concerns about how domestic terrorism impacts workplaces, and what best practices should be for preventing or preparing for such an event. Businesses are struggling to determine how best to prevent an attack, and in case of an emergency, save lives and mitigate damage. 

Now, the threat of gun violence has grown so great that schools, municipalities, and businesses are choosing to purchase insurance against it, according to CNBC. Even though active shooter insurance plans have been available for nearly a decade, there is new interest in coverage to cover employee medical expenses, property damage, and other considerations. Insurance coverage of this nature represents a worst-case scenario for any business, but in an era where gun violence is on the rise, interest in coverage for an active shooter incident will likely continue to grow.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

What Is Active Shooter Insurance? 

Although active shooter insurance, or active assailant coverage, has been around since 2011, they are becoming more visible in an era plagued by gun violence according to the Insurance Information Institute. The policy plan covers medical expenses and funeral costs for victims, as well as the cost of property damage and loss of business. In general, active shooter insurance would supplement, but not replace, the coverage a business is already investing in, which is typically general liability insurance. 

A general liability insurance plan, also known as business liability insurance, protects a business from general claims, which might include any physical injury or property damage. The plan helps cover medical expenses and attorney fees resulting from bodily injuries or property damage the business is legally responsible for. Most businesses, regardless of size, have a plan of this sort. 

According to CNBC, some researchers argue that general liability coverage predates the rise of active shooter incidents, and don’t offer sufficient support. Most general liability plans exclude employee injuries, auto accidents, professional mistakes, or intentional acts. Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, points out how these plans fail to consider, or deliberately exclude an active shooter incident. “As violence grows in schools, malls, universities, and other venues, insurers found that many of the standard liability policies in existence were written prior to the rise in mass shootings,” Worters told CNBC. “Some existing liability policies even exclude gun-related violence entirely.” 

An active shooter insurance policy is a standalone policy, and rates vary based on facility considerations. For example, a higher education institution is more open with high foot-traffic. The lack of physical security in public areas make college buildings more difficult to secure, which means the cost of an active assailant plan would be higher. In general, a small business such as a coffee shop would pay about $1,200 for $1 million in coverage, according to CNBC. 

What Does Active Shooter Insurance Cover? 

Many policies cover crisis management service, medical expense coverage, job retraining or relocation, and other potential supplements which are necessary and unlikely to be covered by a general liability plan. 

Medical Expenses. Policies ensure that employers are able to offer adequate support to affected employees and their families, including covering medical bills, funeral expenses, or death benefits. The policy also allows employers to provide trauma support, as certain plans  cover psychiatric counseling for victims traumatized by the event. 

Business Interuption Coverage. Insured businesses will better be able to recoup the financial losses caused by damage or destruction of property during an active shooter incident. The plan may also help a business stay afloat if regular operations are disrupted by significant property destruction. 

Relocation, Retraining, and Loss of Attraction. An active shooter incident can stigmatize a business, brand, building, or neighborhood, and businesses must be prepared for these losses as well. An active shooter insurance policy can help employees with relocation and retraining, should an individual decide the trauma is preventing them from remaining a current location or role. The policy can also help a business with revenue gaps caused by stigmatization, even if the shooting did not occur at the insured's business. 

Businesses must find new ways to mitigate risks for employees, and even though active shooter insurance may not be at the forefront of every employers' minds, the coverage can ultimately help support employees in case of an emergency. For this reason, the prevalence of these policies is increasing. In July, McGowan Program Administrators sold about 120 active shooter insurance policies, as per CNBC. During 2016, the administration sold the same number of policies over the course of a year. 

Technology, such as a mass notification system, can also play a major role in a businesses proactive approach to corporate safety, active shooter prevention and response. It allows business owners to inform employees of any potential risks, including an active shooter event, and keep all workers informed as the situation develops. In addition, the system helps with operational considerations, letting employees know of available resources in the instance of an emergency. 

When seconds count it is vital to be able to reach your employees quickly and effiently. Our Rave Alert system helps companies do so. Interested in learning more? Click the button below.

Rave Alert Employee Communications

Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and Beyond

September 3, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

national preparedness monthOur new whitepaper “How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts” has been produced to coincide with National Preparedness Month 2019. It reports on the increasing frequency - and increasing cost - of severe weather events, and offers solutions to mitigate the risk of business disruption and injury to employees. 

Although this year's hurricane season has only really started with Hurricane Dorian, weather agencies are forecasting up to twelve more tropical storms before the end of November - up to eight of which could develop into hurricanes. At least two major hurricanes are anticipated in the coming months, potentially causing billions of dollars of damage and impacting thousands of lives.

Consequently, it is a good time to be reminded that September is National Preparedness Month - an event sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in which citizens are encouraged to take steps to prepare for emergencies. As far as businesses are concerned, FEMA's “Ready” campaign proposes four threats to business continuity to prepare against:

  • Natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes.
  • Health hazards and widespread serious illness such as flu.
  • Human-caused hazards including accidents and acts of violence.
  • Technology-related hazards such as power outages and equipment failures.

Inasmuch as these four can be addressed as individual threats, the final three could all be consequences of a severe weather event. Serious illnesses - or the exacerbation of existing conditions - are common after severe weather events, as are accidents due to poor conditions, and ongoing power outages. Therefore, it can be beneficial to develop an all-hazards approach to emergency planning when preparing a business against the threat of severe weather.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

An Employer's Duty of Care to Employees

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers have a duty of care to provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards, establish operating procedures and communicate them clearly, and provide safety training. In the context of severe weather emergency preparedness, this means identifying which severe weather events are likely to affect the business, developing an Emergency Action Plan, communicating the plan to employees, and conducting drills of the plan.

It is important for employers to be aware their duty of care extends beyond the physical workplace if employees work off-site or remotely, or travel between sites. Therefore, if any employee is likely to be impacted by a severe weather event - including a winter storm or extreme temperatures - they have to be included in the business's Emergency Action Plan. The penalties for failing to comply with OSHA regulations can range from $13,260 for a serious violation to $132,598 for repeated violations.

Beyond avoiding a fine for violating OSHA regulations, it also makes good business sense to protect employees from severe weather events. The direct costs of an employee sustaining an avoidable injury may be covered by insurance, but the indirect costs (loss of productivity, temporary labor/overtime costs, recruiting, hiring, and training replacement workers, etc.) can have a significant impact on profitability. For large businesses, the impact can be crippling.

How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts

Our whitepaper - “How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts” - discusses the most common types of severe weather events, and notes how they are increasing in frequency and cost. With regards to an employer's duty of care, the whitepaper raises the importance of timely warnings for employee protection and developing a “critical communications” employee safety net in order to stay connected during severe weather events.

In order to keep employees safe when every second counts, the whitepaper recommends mass notification systems with two-way mobile app extensions that enable employees to reach out for assistance when required. Provided employees are trained to use the systems - and the mobile apps are used in training exercises - the mass notification systems fulfil employers' duty of care, and facilitate business continuity - or an accelerated recovery - when a severe weather event occurs.

To find out more about the recommended solutions, do not hesitate to download our whitepaper. If, after reading the whitepaper, you would like to see the recommended solutions in action, you are invited to contact us in order to request a free demo. Our team of safety experts will be happy to discuss any unique severe weather threats that could result in business disruption or injury to employees, and will tailor the demonstration to your business's specific requirements.

severe weather

Severe Weather Alert Templates Businesses Should Be Using

August 27, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

shutterstock_714982963Severe weather events in the United States are inevitable. Preparing your business for any type of emergency can be difficult, but the right tools (like a mass notification system, emergency and business continuity plan) can have a positive impact on employee safety.

Having a way to connect with employees is vital, but once you get the right tools, what do you send to communicate with them? In a mass notification system, a company can create templates and save them for when they are necessary. Having some in place for any drills, anticipated weather events or other critical events can save valuable time when it comes to reaching out to employees. 

The Cost of Severe Weather 

 While safety is the first concern in any emergency, there are always unavoidable costs that follow. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the most costly event is a tropitcal cycline (hurricane) with an average cost of $22.3 billion in damages. Wildfires average a cost of $5.0 billion per event, floods average a coast of $4.3 billion per event, winter storms average $2.9 billion per event, and other severe storms can average $2.2 billion per event.

Alerts by Region

The severity of weather events is hard to foresee. Businesses are responsible for warning their employees of any delays, closures, and safety hazards. 


The United States experiences a lot of hurricanes throughout the country, but they are most felt along the U.S. coastline. Florida, for example, has been directly hit by 120 hurricanes from 1851- 2018 according to the NOAA. Having a template, like the one below, can be a quick and efficient way to update employees on the office status. 



Floods can occur at out of nowhere and water levels can rise drastically in a matter of hours. There was a national average of 5 days of high tide flooding that occurred within coastal communities in 2018-- this tied with the record which was set in 2015. Being able to warn employees of flash floods can have a drastic impact on employee safety. A sample alert (like the one below) ensures that businesses do their due diligence to keep employees safe.  



An average of 1300 tornadoes hit the United States each year. Typically, people have 13 minutes to get to a safe place. Employees in areas with a high frequency of tornadoes need to be prepared in case of an emergency. With little notice, tornadoes can prove to be disastrous. Timely notifications can ensure employee safety throughout a tornado warning. 



Wildfires can claim hundreds of thousands of acres in a single day. While wildfires can spark anywhere, the most well known location is California. In 2018, California experienced its costliest, deadliest, and largest wildfires to date. The camp fire ignited on November 8, 2018 and was not officially contained until 18 days later. The camp fire claimed more than 18,500 buildings which brought the total cost of California’s 2018 wildfires to $24 billion. Being able to quickly and safely evacuate employees is key in a wildfire situation. Having an alert ready to go can help with that process. 


Winter Storms

Winter storms can cause business delays and even closures. Illinois, on average, experiences five severe winter storms during the November-April period. The storms may only be heavy snow, or snow with ice, or ice only, but one storm can produce snowfall of 6 inches or more over 48 hours. Keeping employees off the roads can prove to be the safest option in some cases. Having an alert keyed to let employees know when the office is closed can do just that. 


It can be hard to predict and anticipate any form of severe weather. It can never hurt to be over prepared with pre-set alert templates that can be sent out in a snap. Using an easy interface and reliable system can ensure that everything runs smoothly when it is needed most. Features like automatic weather notifications (as a FEMA Certified IPAWS Alert Origination Service Provider alerts are triggered by the National Weather Service), and a geotargeted notification can ensure employee communication and response through any storm or severe weather event. 

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How Company Campus Security Teams Can Combat Avoidable Threats

August 20, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

shutterstock_484044418Due to the volume and variety of threats to people and property in the workplace, developing a company campus security strategy that addresses every potential eventuality is impossible. However, by implementing a simple-to-use phone app, companies can better understand the threats and better defend against them.

If your company campus security team were to conduct a risk assessment, what eventualities would present the biggest threats to the people and property on your company campus? Most companies will answer this question differently because of the nature of their operations, and factors such as their locations and the systems put in place to defend against threats they have already identified.

However, two answers that would likely appear less often than is justified are “active assailants” and “insider theft”. This is because the two events are significantly underreported, resulting in a misperception of their frequency and a failure to adequately defend against them. Yet, between the events, they can have a greater impact on a company than almost any other eventuality.

Read the Latest Workplace Violence Statistics

Active Assailants Don't Have to Carry Guns

An active assailant is defined as a person with premeditated and malicious intent to kill or cause bodily harm - not necessarily with a gun. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF), there were 733 workplace homicides in 2017 attributable to an active assailant, but only 351 of those involved guns. These figures give a far more accurate picture of the threat of active assailants than figures produced by the FBI (who recorded ten shootings in business premises in 2017), but they don't tell the whole story.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also compiles reports each year relating to the number of employees suffering non-fatal injuries to “violence by persons or animals”, but this is not a reliable source of active assailant activity as it is survey-based. For example, according to the latest report (2017), the incidence rate of non-fatal injuries attributable to active assailants in the workplace was 7.1 per 100,000 full-time employees. As there are 132 million full time employees in the U.S., this would imply 9,372 attacks.

Active Assailant Events are Grossly Underreported

However, when compared with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' data on non-fatal injuries from workplace violence for healthcare workers (2014), there is a massive discrepancy. The Department of Health and Human Services recorded nearly seventeen thousand incidents that year; and, as the healthcare industry accounts for around 12 percent of the nation's workforce, it could be claimed the true number of active assailant events each year is closer to 140,000.

Admittedly, there is a higher frequency of workplace violence against healthcare workers than any other category of employees, but the calculation of 140,000 non-fatal injuries attributable to workplace active assailants is based on “recorded” incidents. Due to rampant underreporting of workplace injuries in the healthcare sector, the actual number could be much higher.

[RELATED BLOG] Workplace Violence: Why Improving Emergency Communications is  Key to Employee Safety

Malicious Insiders can do More Harm than External Actors

Our blog lists the five main types of workplace violence; and in three of the five types, there is a strong likelihood that the assailant is known to their victim - either as a client, a colleague, or someone with whom they have a personal relationship. In all cases of insider theft, the perpetrator is known to colleagues, and is likely displaying tell-take signs of their malicious activities - activities that can do more harm than external actors' malicious activities because of the insider's knowledge of internal systems.

Most articles discussing the harm that can be done by malicious insiders focus on data theft and cybersecurity - indeed, in one survey 45 percent of respondents saw employees as the main threat to cloud security. But data theft is not the only target of malicious insiders. Many can falsify paper documents in order to cover up the theft of cash or goods (i.e. pharmaceuticals), while other may steal confidential company information they can monetize by taking it to a competitor.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack Procedures

Identifying Potential Workplace Active Assailants and Malicious Insiders

Estimates of how much workplace violence costs U.S. industry vary, but some industry experts believe companies are losing up to $121 billion annually. Similarly, nobody really knows the cost of insider theft, with one guesstimate suggesting companies are losing up to $40 billion per year due to employee theft and fraud. Yet many of these losses are avoidable. Either an active assailant is known to the victim and has displayed signs of unusual behavior, or a malicious insider is displaying one or more of the following characteristics:

Work colleagues often see these signs of unusual behavior or characteristics in the workplace, but fail to bring them to anyone's attention until after the event. In her article “7 Reasons Employees Don't Report Workplace Violence” Carol Fredrickson attributes the failure to report colleagues' unusual behaviors to:

  • Fear of retaliation
  • Fear of becoming the office “snitch”
  • Fear of a grievance or lawsuit
  • Fear of a negative reaction
  • The assumption the unusual behavior will “blow over”
  • A lack of company procedures
  • A lack of training

A solution to overcome the reluctance to report colleagues' unusual behaviors and workplace violence when it happens is an anonymous tip texting app. This easy-to-use app makes employees' data anonymous so the company campus security team receive intelligence it can act on, but doesn't know its origins. It can use the intelligence to investigate potential workplace active assailants and malicious insiders in order to prevent workplace violence and insider theft before it occurs.

Find Out More about Anonymous Tip Texting Technology

Anonymous tip texting technology won't help your company campus security team prevent threats such as severe weather events or chemical spills (there's no technology that can prevent a hurricane), but these are comparatively rare events compared to active assailants and malicious insiders. Furthermore, there a number of excellent mass notification tools that can warn employees to the risk of danger and mitigate the consequences of such events.

For most company campus security teams, the biggest threats are those which they are unaware of, that don't go reported, and that they lack visibility into. Companies can help their security teams - and engage all employees with a responsibility for campus safety - by distributing anonymous tip texting apps throughout the workforce. These systems do not cost very much to implement, and if they prevent one active assailant or insider theft, they will have already paid for themselves.

Anonymous Tips for Workplace Safety

A Day in the Life of a Hospital Emergency Manager

August 20, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Hospital Emergency ManagerHospitals are a critical part of an emergency. But how do medical centers remain operational when disaster strikes? Hospital emergency managers ensure safety and emergency preparedness of hospitals and by extension, their community. In addition to internal incidents, when an emergency occurs in a wider area, communities turn to hospitals and need to be prepared.

A hospital emergency manager holds a great deal of responsibility and wears many hats. This professional directs the response to disasters and oversees crisis management in hospitals or other medical facilities. This process involves the planning, coordination and updates for all aspects of emergency management and operations plan for both employees and patients. It is their job to gather the information needed to write the emergency preparedness plans for their facility and to be able to carry out those plans. The strategic vision for all emergency management prevention, response, and recovery is the responsibility of this role.

Related Blog: The Difference between Emergency Preparedness and Business  Continuity for Hospitals

Creating, training, communicating, and updating emergency response plans take up a significant amount of time for hospitals emergency managers. The goal of preparedness plans is to minimize damages and complications in the event of an emergency. These plans outline operating procedures to be used in response to different types of emergencies. A thorough plan should prepare for and respond to the needs of emergency victims. 

In addition to the medical facility, emergency managers of hospitals must also be prepared for natural or man-made disasters that strike their surrounding area. According to the American College of Healthcare Executives, “The organization’s emergency operations plan should recognize that a healthcare organization may be directly impacted by a disaster and still continue to operate and receive victims of the event.” Communities look to hospitals to care for the ill and injured, to provide food and shelter, and to help coordinate disaster recovery. The mission of hospital emergency managers is to take care of those inside their walls, and the community surrounding it. Ordering evacuations, opening shelters, and ensuring that special needs programs are carried out are a few community responsibilities that may fall under this role. Supporting the greater community's emergency response requires collaborating with local stakeholders, which is another important aspect of a hospital emergency manager's day. 

These potential emergencies for hospitals could come in the form of severe weather, cyber-attacks, workplace violence, and more. In addition to natural disasters, hospital emergency mangers must cover responses for potential CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) emergencies and sustained events such as a pandemic influenza. Any sort of emergency situation can potentially impact a healthcare facility. The emergencies that professionals analyze and prepare for the operational issues of can differ by hospital systems or regions. This role has an ongoing responsibility to understand and stay current regarding applicable state and national standards for emergency preparedness, including the National Response Framework and the Hospital Preparedness Program.

Training others on emergency preparedness is a main day to day responsibility for hospital emergency mangers. The Emergency Management Degree Program Guide says that it’s the “duty of these professionals to design and implement emergency preparedness courses for their staff and community members in order to disseminate information on proper response during various types of situations.” Emergency managers in hospitals must plan and execute all emergency operations plan (EOP) training and exercise events. Emergency management coordinators must communicate with all hospital staff so all employees are properly educated and prepared incase disaster strikes. This includes colleagues, subordinates, supervisors, hospital executives, and more.

A key part of this role is to always be learning and keeping up with new developments in the healthcare industry. Attending events and conferences are important for hospital emergency managers to stay up to date with information and learn best practices from peers. A FEMA Emergency Management license within the past 6 months is a common qualification for the role. The training for this certification is based on a framework within whole communities to reduce vulnerability to hazards and to cope with disasters. The emergency operations plan of a hospital needs to be fully integrated with other agencies and organizations at the local, state and national levels.

Maintaining relationships with community stakeholders is important for emergency mangers at healthcare facilities. Hospitals are a critical element within any emergency response system, especially medical. Hospital emergency leaders must work closely with their local government to develop incident response plans, coordinate efforts, and exchange resources. Hospital emergency managers and community leaders meet to understand each other’s needs, capabilities, and stay up to date. Together, they develop instructional materials for educating public groups on disaster readiness. Collaboration with government officials is also necessary for post-disaster assessment and to maintain incident related regulations. Hospital emergency preparedness is a priority for government at all levels, as well as a key focus of regulatory and accrediting agencies. It is essential for hospital emergency managers to build and maintain relationships with these key stakeholders for collaboration and updates.

Hospitals emergency managers depend on fast and efficient communication methods during emergencies to keep their staff informed, as well to communicate with patients, contractors and other visitors on-site. This role is responsible for ensuring employees receive critical emergency information. Our survey from last year found that email is the most commonly used channel for communication during a variety of situations, from workplace emergencies to finding shift coverage.

FREE REPORT: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends

Weather events, active shooter incidents, and cyber-attacks are the three biggest safety concerns for healthcare professionals according the 300 we surveyed last year. System outages and severe weather are the most common incidents that hospital emergency managers deal with regularly. There’s an increase in healthcare data breaches, occurring every day. And though these professionals are concerned for them, 30% don’t run drills or test emergency plans for a cyberattack event.

Hospital emergency managers are also responsible for the well being of hospital employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace violence is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. Though their main responsibility is patient care, nurses endure staggering amounts of physical and verbal abuse often by the very people they’re caring for. Nurses, both male (96%) and female (84%), have been physically threatened by their own patients, according to Medscape.

As the healthcare industry continues to rapidly grow, hospital emergency managers must evolve to protect employees. Even though healthcare workers make up only 12.2% of the workforce, nearly 75% of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare industry. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, healthcare workers experience the most nonfatal workplace injuries compared to other professions. In healthcare, nursing professionals experience a staggering amount of sexual harassment incidents. Hospital emergency managers must prioritize the personal safety of hospital employees so that they are able to take care of patients.

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Why Every Business Should Have a Corporate Facility Profile

August 13, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

shutterstock_168410300At 3 a.m. on June 17, 2019, an office building not far from the Las Vegas Strip caught fire and burned down. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident, but the fire department faced some interesting challenges. Because of the magnitude of the fire, over 100 firefighters were needed to put out the flames and the building required overnight watch.

The building was an oval shape-- something the first responders did not know until they were on the scene. The nature of the building posed a struggle for firefighters who were trying to get ahead of the flames. The most alarming challenge for the firefighters, however, was the fact that the building had no automatic sprinklers. While the building was up to the International Building Code, all of the information first responders learned on the scene could have been brought to their attention earlier. 

How to Better Prepare First Responders

When first responders arrive at the scene of an emergency, they often try to find the most effective way into the building. A place that has multiple floors and various companies, like a commercial building, can be difficult for first responders to reach the right area in a timely manner. 

Four things that can better prepare a company and first responders include:

  • Labeling entrances and loading docks with numbers or letters. This allows for 9-1-1 callers to direct first responders closer to the incident. 
  • Working with the fire departments and building inspectors to make sure the commercial space is up to code. In the case of the Las Vegas building, the 1980 building code did not require the commercial building to have automatic sprinklers. However, having more fire extinguishers and being more or equally prepared as new buildings could have made an impact. 
  • Having clear signage inside the building. Directions and arrows to items like fire hoses, extinguishers, AED devices, exits, and more can help firefighters move quickly throughout a space. 
  • Creating a Facility Profile. Loading virtual information about a building and including information like floor plans, campus boundaries, and access points can prepare first responders on the way to an emergency. 

It is good practice to have more than one plan in place for commercial building emergencies. 

What a Corporate Facility Profile Provides to First Responders  

There is a lot of information in a commercial building that first responders could have access to in case of an emergency. Pertinent information can be included in a facility profile, such as:


  • Access points and necessary entry codes
  • The location of fire extinguishers and AEDs 
  • The locations and codes for alarms
  • How to remotely access CCTV footage
  • Emergency contact information (especially for key holders, administrators, and security personnel)
  • Landline phone numbers and their location within buildings and rooms
  • Utility information and shutoff locations for buildings

A facility profile displays automatically when the caller’s landline ANI matches a registered telephone number in the account, or when the Phase II wireless location in the ALI overlaps the geo-fenced footprint of an account. Call takers and first responders can also search for a facility if information is needed during an incident without a 9-1-1 call such as a business check, suspect search or fire.

Medical emergencies, fires, and active shooter incidents can all be prepared for in advance with a corporate facility profile. Rave Facility has improved the speed and efficiency of emergency response by providing evacuation routes and hydrant locations during a fire, AED locations during a medical emergency, and floor plans in the event of an active shooter.

Create a Facility Profile

How Manufacturers can Address Quality Issues and Protect the Bottom Line through Streamlined Communication

August 6, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

protect the bottom line through streamlined communicationUnplanned downtime and product recalls can significantly drive up costs in the manufacturing industry; yet, because the causes of these adverse events are not easy to predict, they are difficult to prepare for. One solution to mitigate the consequences of unplanned downtime and product recalls is to streamline communications.

In 2005, Nielsen Research conducted a survey of 101 executives in the automotive industry on behalf of Advanced Technology Services Inc. (ATS). The objective of the survey was to determine how many businesses would benefit from outsourcing machine maintenance to ATS in order to reduce the number of machine breakdowns and increase productivity. One of the questions asked was how much unplanned downtime cost the manufacturers - and the response was a staggering $22,000 per minute.

Bearing in mind the survey is nearly fifteen years out of date, the actual cost of unplanned downtime per minute is now likely to be much higher. Furthermore, due to an increased reliance on software systems to keep production lines running, software glitches and cyberattacks against businesses in the manufacturing industry can cause just as many stoppages as machine failures - and these types of stoppages can often take longer to resolve because you can´t just replace a piston to stop a cyberattack.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack ProceduresIt's not only machine breakdowns, software glitches, and the actions of malicious actors that can cause unplanned downtime. A survey in 2017 (registration required) found that 23 percent of all unplanned downtime in manufacturing is the result of human error; compared to an all-industry average of 17 percent and rates as low as 9 percent in some industries. With this range of adverse events responsible for unplanned downtime, it is difficult to comprehensively prepare for every possible eventuality.

Product Recalls Can be Even More Expensive

The cost of unplanned downtime in manufacturing can pale into insignificance when compared to product recall costs. In December 2017, the global corporate arm of the Allianz insurance company - AGCS - analyzed 367 product recall insurance claims between 2012 and mid-2017. Analysts found (PDF) that the average cost of a large product recall across all industries was $11.7 million once indirect costs are taken into account (i.e. litigation, regulatory fines, lost sales, loss of reputation, etc.).

Related Blog: How to Quickly Communicate Product Recalls to Distributors

Not only did AGCS' analysts find that the scale of product recalls is increasing, but also their frequency. The analysts attributed the increases in scale and frequency to five contributing factors:

  • Consolidation in the supply chain means that, whenever a product is recalled from the chain, the “ripple effect” extends far wider than before.
  • The enforcement of tougher consumer protection regulations - and whistleblower protection in the U.S. - has resulted in manufacturers coming under greater scrutiny.
  • There are more product recalls attributable to undeclared allergens caused by labeling errors, toxins, and environmental contamination.
  • Economic pressures has resulted in businesses not fully testing their products before going to market or sourcing cheaper components from unreliable sources.
  • As social pressures increase against (for example) slave labor and child labor, some businesses have recalled products to protect their reputations.

Social pressures can have a considerable impact on the scale of a product recall - and its costs. The report's authors note that the scale and cost of a poorly-managed product recall can be exacerbated if social media learns of a potentially harmful product; and that the key to limiting reputational damage is “timely and honest communication” - not just with end users, but also with other businesses throughout the supply chain, the media, and regulatory agencies.

Related Article: Overcoming 5 Business Communication Challenges

How to Mitigate the Consequences of Adverse Events in Manufacturing

Timely and honest communication is not only important during the product recall process, but also when unplanned downtime occurs. Employees and businesses further up the supply chain need to be told what is going on and how likely it is going to last. It might also be necessary to communicate quickly with suppliers to prevent the delivery of manufacturing components coming into the business - especially in the food industry where manufacturing components may only have a limited lifecycle.

The best way to achieve timely and honest communication is with a streamlined approach. Communication platforms such as a mass notification system can be integrated with digital signage systems to alert workers in a noisy environment about a machine breakdown or other event (i.e. severe weather) and how long it may take to resolve. The same platform can be used to alert businesses up and down the supply chain of unplanned downtime, and - in cases of emergency events - to alert emergency services.

geo-poll-healthDuring unplanned downtime, a geotargeted polling feature can be used to warn employees who have not yet started their shifts to delay coming to work, or - when the issue causing the downtime has been resolved - to connect with employees in order to see who is available for extra shifts. If the cause of the unplanned downtime is the business's ERM system, mass notification can also be used as a plant-wide communications platform in order to maintain production while the ERM system is fixed.

The ways in communication platforms with geo-poll features can accelerate product recalls and mitigate the consequences are discussed in this article, and it is also suggested businesses in every industry review our whitepaper “7 Essentials to Break through the Clutter” which includes a business-critical communications checklist that covers events such as unplanned downtime and product recalls. 

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

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

July 30, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

emergency preparednessThis year's hurricane season is forecasted to have the third highest level of storm intensity this decade, yet many businesses are not fully prepared for severe weather events. Some lack basic severe weather preparedness plans, potentially placing the business - and the people who work for it - at risk.

In 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and a further 25 percent of businesses fail within a year. Similar statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration indicated over 90 percent of small businesses fail within two years due to putting too much reliance on insurance and awards from government agencies.

The data may be nearly twenty years old, but it is just as relevant today as it was then. In the ten hurricane seasons prior to FEMA's report, five had seen average or below average storm intensities as measured by the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) scale. In the past ten seasons, four have seen above normal storm intensities and two were classified as “hyperactive” - the highest level on the scale.

The bad news for businesses unprepared for severe weather is that the latest hurricane season forecast (PDF) predicts an ACE measurement of 150; which puts it just below the hyperactive level and - if the forecast is correct - will make 2019 the third most intense hurricane season this decade. Furthermore, if recent severe weather patterns are repeated, the hurricanes could reach further inland than ever before - affecting many businesses who have historically not been at risk from severe weather emergencies.

Many Businesses Fail to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Last year, FM Global - a US mutual insurance company specializing in loss prevention services - conducted a survey among its customers affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The company found 62 percent of businesses that experienced an adverse impact due to the three hurricanes were not completely prepared against their impact and/or their consequences. 

In a press release, the company's Vice President - Dr. Louis Gritzo - attributed the lack of preparedness to risk denial, risk miscalculation, and an over-reliance on insurance. It was noted that 7 in 10 respondents were going to make changes to their risk management strategies and that 40 percent will invest more in risk management, property loss prevention, and/or supply chain risk management.

Dr. Gritzo commented that relying on insurance to support a business after a natural disaster is a mistake. He said “insurance cannot restore market share, brand equity or shareholder value”, and added “these candid admissions drive home a fundamental truth about catastrophe. People routinely fail to understand or acknowledge the magnitude of risk until they've experienced a fateful event.”

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

How Prepared is Your Business for a Severe Weather Emergency?

In 2007, the National Safety Council published a course for small businesses with the objective of encouraging them to develop emergency strategies and emergency preparedness plans. Although the course is directed at small businesses and doesn't directly focus on severe weather, the introduction includes an excellent assessment form to gauge each business's readiness for an emergency event. The assessment form consists of eleven questions:

  • Does your business know what kinds of emergencies might affect it – both internally and externally?
  • Does your business have a written, comprehensive emergency plan in place to help ensure your safety and take care of employees until help can arrive?
  • Has your business created and practiced procedures to quickly evacuate and find shelter in case of an emergency?
  • Has your business created a communication plan to communicate with employees in an emergency?
  • Has your business talked with utility service providers about potential alternatives and identified back-up options?
  • Has your business determined operations that need to be up and running first after an emergency and how to resume key operations?
  • Has your business created a list of inventory and equipment, including computer hardware, software, and peripherals for business continuity and insurance purposes?
  • Has your business met with your insurance provider to review current coverage in case of an emergency?
  • Does your business promote family and individual preparedness among co-workers either during staff meetings or via internal communication?
  • Have emergency shutdown procedures been developed for equipment such as boilers, automatic feeds or other operations that cannot be left running in an emergency evacuation?
  • Has your business worked with your community on emergency planning efforts and helped to plan for community recovery?

Each question can be answered “Yes”, “No” or “Unsure”. Only if eight or more questions are answered “Yes” is a business considered to be on its way to having a comprehensive and effective emergency preparedness in place. From this starting point, businesses taking the course are shown how to best prepare for any type of emergency with special focus on communications, direction and control, training, medical services, and community outreach.

Why Effective Communication is Essential, Before, During, and After an Emergency

Effective communication is essential before an emergency to ensure everybody knows their roles when an emergency occurs. It is essential during an emergency to keep everybody safe, and essential after an emergency to get the business running again as quickly as possible. However, during severe weather emergencies, it is advisable to have a communication system in place that does not rely on one channel of communication to keep in touch with emergency services, employees, customers, and suppliers.

Broken power lines, damaged cell towers, and flooding are frequent occurrences during the hurricane season; and these events can prevent voice calls, SMS texts, and emails reaching their destination. Ensure your business has a communications system capable of supporting your emergency preparedness plan.

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Fatal Accident Sparks Discussion about Lone Worker Checking-In Policies

July 23, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

shutterstock_594452540The tragic death of a vineyard worker has sparked a discussion about whether all employers should have lone worker checking-in policies to regularly keep in touch with their offsite employees. Although a checking-in policy may not have saved a life in this instance, the technology exists to implement such a measure quickly and inexpensively.

On the evening of May 14th, the daughter of Luis Gonzalez Valencia realized her 62-year-old father had not returned from the Jackson Park Vineyard in Sonomo County, California, where he was employed as a vineyard worker. Ms. Valencia went to the vineyard, where she found her father deceased under a rolled-over ATV. Apparently Mr. Valencia had been inspecting irrigation lines at the time of the accident.

Ms. Valencia notified the Sonomo County Sheriff's Office, who - as this was a workplace fatality - turned the case over to California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health for investigation. Deputies from the Sheriff's Office made it known to news reporters that Mr. Garcia was trained in ATV safety and had been provided with personal protective equipment - which he was using at the time of the accident.

Would a Checking-In Policy have Saved Luis' Life?

At this time, it is not known how the accident happened or for how long Mr. Gonzalez had been trapped under the rolled-over ATV before he died. The Jackson Park Vineyard has never experienced a workplace fatality before, but the company's spokesperson refused to be drawn on its safety policy for employees working alone or how common it is for lone workers to operate ATVs.

Certainly, had the vineyard had a policy for checking-in on lone workers periodically, the accident would have been noticed sooner and Ms. Valencia spared the trauma of finding her father's lifeless body late in the evening. Indeed, as soon as Mr. Valencia had failed to respond to a check-in call, colleagues could have been dispatched to look for him - possibly alerting emergency services in time to save his life.

Related Article: Why Lone Worker Security Apps Should Be Available to All  Employees

How Lone Worker Checking-In Policies Work

Checking in-policies work in a number of different ways. It can either be the responsibility of an office-based manager to check in with lone workers, or the lone workers' responsibility to check-in with a manager or colleagues at pre-determined intervals. The frequency of the check in call will depend on the level of risk assessed; and, should a lone worker not call or respond at the set time, the manager or colleagues can attempt to contact the lone worker to ensure they are safe, or provide help if not.

Amy Wolfe - President and CEO of the agricultural safety organization Agsafe - said: “This accident should serve as a reminder to employers about lone worker safety”. She added:  We can’t say definitively how much the length of time played into it, but this is a fantastic example of one of the deficiencies that many employers have, and that is having a system of communication in place with your lone-workers. Multiple regulations require this, so the concept is not new, nor is it unique.”

Technology for Implementing Checking-In Policies

One of the reasons many employers don't implement a checking-in policy is that operating one manually can be unreliable, disruptive, and time-consuming for both the lone worker and their manager or colleagues. Calls can be forgotten or an attitude of complacency can develop - so much so that, if something did happen to a lone worker, colleagues or managers might not know what to do.

However, technology exists that automates the check-in process via a mobile phone app. The app has a countdown timer that can be set to expire at the pre-determined interval. If the timer is not deactivated and reset before it expires, an alert is sent to managers/colleagues, who can then follow-up on the missed alarm; and, if the lone worker is unresponsive, send a party to find out if they are okay.

One of the benefits of mobile phone apps is they use the phone's GPS feature to inform search parties of the lone worker's exact location. This saves valuable time in locating an injured lone worker and guiding emergency services to where they are required. 

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The Difference between Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity for Hospitals

July 16, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

emergency preparedness and business continuity for hospitalsDistinguishing between emergency preparedness and business continuity in a medical environment can be complicated due to the two areas of emergency management often overlapping. However, there are good reasons to separate the two functions - provided the teams responsible collaborate closely.

In many industries, the lines between emergency preparedness and business continuity can often be blurred because the two functions relate to how a business responds to a crisis. In the healthcare industry, there is even more of a crossover because, when an emergency such as a natural disaster occurs, healthcare facilities have a legal obligation to protect staff and patients from harm while attending to the needs of the community.

Nonetheless, there are good reasons to separate the two functions. One team - the emergency preparedness team - should focus on protecting staff, patients, and visitors. This involves developing an emergency preparedness plan, training staff on emergency procedures, planning evacuations and patient transportation, and ensuring life-support resources are in place and ready to use when an emergency incident occurs.

The role of the second team - the business continuity team - is to plan how the hospital´s operations can be maintained during different types of emergencies and - if it is not possible to maintain all operations - which should be given priority and how quickly others can be restored to their pre-emergency state thereafter. This requires the business continuity team to develop both a continuity of operations plan for different departments and an overall business continuity plan.

>>Download the Infographic - Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Needs to Evolve

Collaboration and Communication between Teams is Vital

Emergency preparedness and business continuity planning for hospitals is complicated by multiple federal and regional regulations (i.e. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act). Both teams have to take these regulations into account when developing their plans as well as liaise with local governments and external emergency managers to incorporate National Incident Management System and National Response Framework policies into their plans.

This requires a high level of collaboration between teams, between neighboring medical facilities and with other emergency management stakeholders. Due to the importance of ensuring essential communications are noticed and acted upon, it is recommended hospitals dedicate a unique and secure communication system for internal and external emergency communications in order to (for example) prevent critical emails being overlooked among a crowded inbox.

Ideally, the communication system should be sufficiently versatile that it can be used for collaboration purposes, alert staff to an emergency, and notify key personnel when their services are required for business continuity. Therefore the system should be capable of database segmentation with the option of adding other groups of emergency managers so the system can act as an emergency command center should “normal” communication channels become unavailable during the emergency.

What Surpasses the Requirements for Hospital Preparedness and Business Continuity

A reliable mass notification system that uses multiple channels of communication to quickly alert the maximum number of people to an emergency in the shortest possible time is a great way to surpass requirements for hospital preparedness and business continuity. Certain platforms support unlimited database segmentation to facilitate collaboration between groups, and have an opt-in feature for visitors to receive emergency notifications and for external emergency managers to be added to communication timelines for emergency preparedness and business continuity discussions.

Another feature found in top-notch hospital mass notification systems is the ability to conduct wellness checks. Poll-based alerts enable emergency managers to check on the wellbeing of employees during an emergency by geographical location, and gives business continuity managers the opportunity to poll employees by role for their availability to work extra shifts. 

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The Importance of a Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Plan for Non-Coastal Businesses

July 16, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

shutterstock_1203941074Non-coastal businesses may not feel they are at significant risk during hurricane season; but, as recent history demonstrates, the effect of coastal hurricanes can impact inland businesses. Therefore, it is recommended all businesses develop a hurricane emergency preparedness plan for the consequences of any hurricane.

In October last year, Forbes published an article focusing on the impact Hurricane Michael had on inland businesses in Georgia. Primarily discussing the devastation to the state´s agriculture industry, the author noted that, while slow moving hurricanes produce intense rainfall, the damage caused by faster-moving hurricanes such as Hurricane Michael is primarily attributable to high winds.

Non-agricultural businesses in Georgia also experienced notable devastation. With wind speeds in Albany, GA, - 150 miles from where Hurricane Michael made landfall - reaching 74 miles per hour, power outages affected almost 25,000 customers and more than 100 roads were blocked by fallen trees and debris. Throughout the state, more than 400,000 customers were left without power

As the hurricane moved North East, the devastation continued. Hurricane Michael wiped out power supplies to half a million customers in North Carolina, closed 1,200 roads in Virginia, and - as it slowed in speed - produced severe flooding in Maryland. However, it was not only the direct consequences of the hurricane that were devastating, but also the indirect consequences.

The Indirect Consequences of Hurricanes

The indirect consequences of hurricanes affect practically every business in the country. While businesses in the midst of a storm suffer from power outages, structural damage, and flooding (which can also impact employees' ability to report for work), those outside its reach can also experience travel, transportation, and supply chain issues. Product and fuel shortages can also result in higher prices.

In these circumstances, businesses that are better prepared for the direct and indirect consequences of hurricanes will not experience such significant disruptions due to port closures, flight cancellations, or road closures. Furthermore, with many employees having the capability to work remotely, prepared businesses are better able to coordinate workflows and maintain operations. advocates businesses prepare an all-hazards emergency plan based on a risk-assessment and - on its risk assessment web page - includes resources business can use to determine the likelihood of natural hazards such as hurricanes. However, these resources do not account for the indirect consequences of a hurricane - so businesses need to take these into account as well.

Related Blog: This Year's Hurricanes Already Have Names. How Prepared is Your  Business to Deal with Them?

What Should a Hurricane Emergency Plan Consist Of?

Different businesses in different locations will have different levels of exposure to the direct and indirect consequences of a hurricane, but there are several considerations that should be included in every hurricane emergency preparedness plan.

Disaster Recover for Data and IT Systems

This consideration will be of greater importance for businesses in the direct line of a hurricane; but as hurricanes are getting stronger and reaching further inland than before, businesses outside of historical risk zones should also consider how data and IT systems would be impacted in the event of a hurricane.

Emergency Evacuation

Businesses should liaise with local emergency management officials when developing emergency evacuation plans to avoid gridlocking community evacuation routes and routes used by emergency services. The plan should also take into consideration employees´ special needs.

Emergency Business Supplies

In the event of it not being possible to evacuate the workplace before a hurricane strikes, businesses should stock up on water, non-perishable food, and medical equipment. It is also recommended to invest in an electricity generator and enough fuel to provide power for at least three days.

Business Continuity

Whereas some emergency planning authorities recommend reviewing insurance policies, insurance cannot restore market share, brand equity, or shareholder value in the event the business is unable to operate for a period of time. Investigate remote working as a way to keep the business running.

A Good Communications System is Essential

With the likelihood of power outages affecting cell phone services, it is essential a good communications system is implemented that works across multiple channels to keep in touch with employees, emergency management officials, customers, and vendors.

Further Advice on Hurricane Emergency Preparedness

This year, an above-average number of hurricanes is forecast with above-average levels of intensity. Although none are expected to be as devastating as Hurricane Michael, it is impossible to be 100% certain. To mitigate the direct and indirect consequences of a major hurricane - or any adverse weather event - businesses should conduct a risk assessment with focus on disaster recovery, business continuity, and communication plans to see if it could cope with an event on the scale of Hurricane Michael.

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This Year's Hurricanes Already Have Names. How Prepared is Your Business to Deal with Them?

July 9, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Hurricane SeasonThe most recent forecasts for this year's hurricane season predict an above-average number of major storms with higher-than-average intensity. Yet research shows the majority of businesses are unprepared for severe weather events - increasing concerns businesses will experience significant disruption to operations.

Each year, the National Hurricane Center assigns twenty-one names for tropical storms with wind speeds of 34 knots (39 mph) or more. The names have an alphabetical order from A to W - skipping Q and U - and alternate between traditionally male and female names. Usually the names are rotated in six year cycles, unless a tropical storm turns into a significantly destructive hurricane (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) - in which case the name is retired. This year's tropical storms and hurricanes will be called:

Order of Names for North Atlantic Tropical Storms and Hurricanes 2019























Usually twenty-five names is sufficient for the hurricane season. Only once since accurate records have been kept were there more than twenty-one tropical storms and hurricanes in a single season (in 2005); and, since 1981, there has been an average of twelve named storms per year - with six developing into hurricanes, and two of these developing into major hurricanes. However, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes for this coming season is predicted to be higher than average.

Related Case Study: How Fluor Petroleum is Using WebEOC and Mass Notification  for Employee Accountability

More Storms Predicted with Greater Intensity than Usual

Throughout the year, weather organizations release their outlooks for the hurricane season. This year's predictions started by suggesting lower than average storm activity in the North Atlantic; but, due to a decrease in the impact of El Niño on mean sea level pressure, the number of storms predicted for between June and November has been increasing steadily. The most recent outlook (PDF) forecasts sixteen named storms with eight hurricanes - three of which will be major hurricanes.

Of greater concern than the increasing number of forecast storms, is their predicted intensity. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) scale calculates tropical storm intensity based on estimated wind speeds. Any season in which the ACE calculation is forecast to be above 111 is considered to be an above-average season for tropical storm intensity. The most recent outlook predicts an ACE value of 150 - which, if correct, puts this year´s hurricane season on the verge of being hyperactive.

To put the significance of the high ACE value into context, there have been two occasions since Hurricane Katrina when ACE has been calculated at higher than 150 - in 2010, when twelve of that year´s nineteen tropical storms developed into hurricanes (of which five were classified as major hurricanes); and in 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose ripped through the Gulf States and up the Eastern Seaboard in quick succession. 2012 - the year of Hurricane Sandy - achieved an ACE value of 132.

Related Blog: How GE Appliances Performed Employee Wellness Checks During Major  Hurricanes

Most Businesses “Not Completely Prepared” for Hurricane Season

New call-to-actionIn 2018, the insurance company FM Global conducted a survey into the hurricane preparedness of businesses located in the areas most significantly affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose. The key takeaway from the survey was that nearly two-thirds of respondents reported suffering an adverse impact on operations due to being “not completely prepared” for the hurricane season - despite forecasts predicting a higher-than-average storm season and a greater storm intensity than usual.

The lack of hurricane preparedness was attributed to three reasons by Dr. Louis Gritzo - Vice President and Manager of Research at FM Global. He claimed not only was there a level of denial about the risk from hurricanes, but because the likelihood of three successive, intense hurricanes was a “once-in-a-hundred-years-event”, some businesses felt they had ninety-nine years to prepare for it. Gritzo warned that a “once-in-a-hundred-years-event” means there is a 1% chance of the event happening every year.

The third reason for a lack of hurricane preparedness - according to Gritzo - was an over-reliance on insurance. He noted that although insurance can cover the costs of replacing damaged infrastructure, it cannot restore market share, brand equity or shareholder value. He added:  “These candid admissions drive home a fundamental truth about catastrophe. People routinely fail to understand or acknowledge the magnitude of risk until they've experienced a fateful event.”

A Communications System is Key to Effective Hurricane Preparedness

In response to the worrying lack of hurricane preparedness uncovered by FM Global´s survey, the company compiled a comprehensive emergency checklist (PDF) which provides advice on how businesses should prepare for a hurricane, and the actions they should take during and after an adverse weather event. The key to the checklist being executed effectively is a communications system that is not exclusively reliant one channel of communication (i.e. the Internet or a cellular phone service). 

It is also important the solution implemented to execute the hurricane preparedness plan is capable of database segmentation. At various stages of an emergency event, different personnel may need to be notified of changes to their roles, evacuation procedures, or when it is safe to return to work. Notifying all personnel of every stage in the execution of an emergency management plan can cause confusion and risk more disruption to a business's operations.

Other factors businesses should take into account when evaluating emergency communication systems is the ability to plan ahead with emergency notification templates, integration with existing personnel databases to ensure data freshness, and an opt in/opt out capability so that casual workers, sub-contractors, and visiting personnel can also be notified of the correct course of action during an emergency event. Ideally, the system should also support two-way multi-modal communication.

How Prepared is Your Business for This Year's Hurricane Season?

With an above-average number of storms predicted, and an almost hyperactive level of intensity forecast, it is likely many businesses will experience “once-in-a-hundred-years” adverse weather events this year. Make sure your business is prepared against significant disruptions to operations by developing a hurricane preparedness plan and supporting it with an effective emergency communications system.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

Company Summer Outings: Event Management Tips

July 9, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Company Summer OutingSummer is the best time of the year for outdoor activities, BBQs, and fun in the sun. As the weather heats up many businesses want to celebrate the warm weather with their employees by hosting fun company summer outings and corporate events to boost morale in the hotter months. Event managers are hopeful for clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and no bumps along the way. This isn’t always the case, which is why planning and preparation for sizzling summer activities is extremely important when it comes to employee safety.  

Preparing for Your Company Summer Outing

When planning your company summer outing or event it’s important to keep this in mind: anything can happen. For this reason, preparing for your event should include a comprehensive emergency response plan and an emergency communications plan. After all, the safety of your employees is your biggest concern behind everybody having a great time!

  • Emergency Response Plan
    There are different levels of planning dependent on the summer activity or outing you are hosting. As the event planner, you should understand the types of situations that could arise and how to address them.

    • Beat the Heat
      Summertime weather can be unpredictable. Heat waves can bring extremely high temperatures for extended periods of time, which is why you must be prepared for one when planning a company summer outing. Heat-related illnesses can be very serious. According to National Safety Council, “Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death. In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat.” If your venue is outdoors we recommend having plenty of drinking water available to keep your employees hydrated. Other ways to cool down include swimming or even misting systems.

    • Know Your Evacuation Options
      After you’ve picked your venue you should evaluate the exits and come up with an evacuation route in the case of an emergency. Whether your event is indoors or outdoors, the exit plans should be clear and shared with employees before the event begins. You could also assign staff members to help if an emergency arises to ensure smooth and calm evacuations if needed.

    • Account for Special Circumstances
      If there are employees who have medical requirements, allergies, or a handicap, it’s important to make sure you know how to help if an emergency arises. Make a note of those who may need extra help during an evacuation, for example. Encourage your employees to sign up for free personal safety profile like Smart911 that holds vital medical information only available to first responders when 9-1-1 is called during an emergency.

    • Utilize Technology
      There are many ways to communicate quickly and efficiently with first responders and law enforcement should an emergency arise. If you’re hosting a summer BBQ on premise, the use of your emergency notification platform could be a great help. Some companies also have employee safety apps that contact all necessary security personnel, even 9-1-1, with just the push of a button.
      Read More: Comparing Notification System Tools for Critical Communication
  • Emergency Communication Plan
    Your company summer outing’s emergency communication plan is just as important as your emergency response plan! Not being able to communicate with your employees could be detrimental to their safety. Having a communication plan provides structure on where, when and how information will be communicated to your employees.

    • Contact Management
      When planning your corporate summer event you’ll likely have some type of RSVP list or list of employees who plan on attending. Having their contact information is very important, but if the data is not stored and managed properly, you could run into some problems. If you’re not feeling confident in your current contact database, there are robust platforms that can help collect staff information and any special needs, medical requirements, and more.

    • Communication Technology
      Utilizing your emergency notification platform is a must for your corporate summer event. Being able to reach all event staff and employees if an emergency arises is essential to the safety of your employees. If your company does not have an emergency notification platform in place, it may be time to consider adopting one.

  • Have Fun!
    Summer events are a great opportunity for your employees to relax, celebrate, and have fun! Being prepared for the worst means you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the day knowing if anything happens, there is a plan to address it.

Related Article: Overcoming 5 Business Communication Challenges

Safety Tips to Share With Employees

Depending on where your event is being hosted, there may be some extra precautions to take when it comes to employee safety. Share the below safety tips with your employees before your company summer outing so they know how to be prepared themselves!

  • Fireworks Safety
    If you’re event has fireworks, be sure to share some safety tips with your employees. Here are some tips from National Safety Council:
    • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
    • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
    • Never light them indoors
    • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
    • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
    • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
    • Never ignite devices in a container
    • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
    • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
    • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
    • Never use illegal fireworks

  • Water Safety
    Your company summer outing may be by the water, at a pool, or be family friendly. If that’s the case, let your employees know of the below water safety tips from National Safety Council:
    • Don't go in the water unless you know how to swim
    • Never swim alone
    • Learn CPR and rescue techniques
    • Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
    • If you do get caught in a current, don't try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
    • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
    • Don't push or jump on others
    • Don't dive in unfamiliar areas
    • Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to

  • Surviving the Heat
    Again, summertime can be extremely hot, which is why knowing what to look for when it comes to heat exhaustion or heat stroke is important. Learn more about both from National Safety Council here.

Celebrate the warmth of summertime with your employees safely!

If you’d like any assistance reviewing your event emergency response plans or communication plans, we’d be happy to help.

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Protecting Lone Workers during the Summer

July 2, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Lone workerEmployers have a mandated duty of care to protect all workers from risk of injury, but during the summer it can be easy to overlook lone workers exposed to seasonal hazards. We look at some of the most common seasonal hazards encountered by lone workers and how employers can enhance their safety.

The term lone worker can relate to any employee working in isolation, working in the field, working remotely, or travelling between destinations on their own. That covers quite a lot of people. It has been estimated that, by 2020, fifty percent or more of the working population will be working remotely, yet according to our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey, twenty-six percent of all employees feel that worrying about their safety affects their work.

In relation to lone workers, the percentage of concerned employees is probably higher. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a table of fatal occupational injuries, and three of the six categories (transportation accidents, violence, and environmental exposure) are particularly relevant to lone workers. The remaining three categories may also be relevant if a lone worker sustains an injury in an isolated location where no help is available.

BLS: Fatal Occupational Injuries by Event - 2017



Contact with Objects


Trips, Slips, and Falls


Environmental Exposure




Fires & Explosions



Why Certain Categories are More Dangerous in the Summer

Certain categories of occupational injuries are more likely in the summer months than they are in the winter due to the warmer weather. Evidence was presented by the New York Times last year that gun crimes rise in tandem with temperatures, and that more violence occurs outdoors than indoors in the summer - particularly in disadvantaged communities that don´t have access to air-conditioning in order to escape the heat.

Rising temperatures can also cause heat stress - a condition that occurs when the body temperature heats up faster than it can cool itself down. Heat stress can overwhelm the body´s coping mechanisms, leading to a variety of serious and possibly fatal conditions. When exposed to extreme heat, employees are at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke - the effects of which can vary from mild to life-threatening depending on the general health of the individual.

Lone workers can also be more at risk from other environmental issues during the summer - such as poor air quality insect bites. Between 1992 and 1997, bites from spiders and other insects accounted for 36,100 reported non-fatal occupational injuries (PDF) and illnesses; and - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - between ninety and one hundred people die each year in the U.S. due to an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting.

How to Protect Lone Workers from Summer Dangers

It´s not possible to put a defensive ring around a lone employee to protect them from violence, the strength of the sun, or biting insects; but it is possible for employers to maintain constant communication with lone workers in order to check on their wellbeing, encourage them to speak up if they are uncomfortable in any environment, and provide training for the most likely summer dangers they will encounter - or the resources to deal with less likely summer dangers.

One of the best ways to enhance the safety of lone workers during the summer is through an employee safety app. This easy-to-operate app contains many different features that support employers attempting to protect lone workers against summer dangers. The app also includes an emergency call button, a safety timer, and a geo-targeted push notification capability that means employers can simultaneously keep in touch with groups of lone workers working in the same location.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

Interesting Workplace Tech You Didn't Know Existed

June 25, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe


Document processing. Manual data entry. Cumbersome file sharing. Workplace technology continues to change the way we work, allowing employees to work smarter. Chief information officers are now faced with more options that ever for what their company should invest in. The workplace is evolving at an ever-accelerating rate, which means that the capabilities of workplace technology are too. New technology is constantly coming out with the aim to upgrade some aspect of work life. 

Here's a list of recent workplace tech you may not be familiar with yet.


The advancements of workplace technology are having organizations rethink the ‘place’ in ‘workplace’. Boeing, Facebook, DHL and Microsoft are early adaptors in fully integrating virtual reality with their employees. This mixed reality aims to make workplace tasks and trainings more integrated and comprehensive. NASA was the first to use virtual reality to train its pilots, simulating spaceflights. Slowly, more companies started using VR training programs for their staff, like  UPSKFC, and Siemens. It’s particularly popular in fields that require physically demanding and potentially dangerous tasks to be completed, because VR allows you to provide hands-on training in a safe and controlled environment. HR leaders and hiring managers are now able to simulate on-the-job experiences as an aid in recruiting, onboarding and training in a number of industries. 

According to predictions by IT research and consultancy company Gartner, it’s estimated that 20% of large enterprises will begin adopting some form of these solutions this year. Virtual or augmented reality was once perceived as novelty in the corporate world. However, major companies investing in and adopting this technology early on are signaling a future trend, and companies are likely to follow industry leaders.

VR compliments the continued rise of remote workers. Virtual office locations are rapidly replacing traditional office spaces. According to The New York Times, 43% of Americans surveyed preform some type of remote work. Virtual reality aims to provide a more seamless experience for coworkers to connect than the countless communication and collaboration tools that have historically dominated. Virtual reality can transform a simple voice call interaction with a remote worker to an immersive experience.


As technology improves to benefit the workplace, so do the skills of black hat hackers. From malware to data leaks and everything in between, cyber security breaches show no signs of slowing down in 2020.  Cyber security threats continue to evolve, and all employees need to be diligent. Countless software options to improve cyber security are available and necessary, but security needs to be infused with company culture to be effective. No one expects to be the target of a cyber-attack, but any employee can be a target. Educating all employees at a company to be security champions empowers everyone to work smarter and decrease risks.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ability of smart devices to connect to the home or workplace to provide efficient solutions for the end-user. A recent report shows that by 2020, an estimated 200 billion IoT devices will be in circulation, and more than 65% of enterprises will adopt IoT products.

Businesses can leverage IoT technology in a number of ways, the major limits being budget and imagination. Increasing energy efficiencies is one unexpected benefit of this workplace technology. Businesses use a massive amount of energy, and electricity, heating, cooling, and machinery are often used in excess. This is because of an inability to monitor or control output. By integrating IoT into the workplace, energy control becomes a more simplified, straightforward process. Motioned censor lighting and smart HVAC systems can help keep employees comfortable, while saving businesses money in the long run.

IoT can also improve day-to-day operations by providing employees with beneficial capabilities. Voice-activated technology, smart desks, enhanced meeting spaces, presentation tools and streamlined communication techniques are all IoT capabilities that are being integrated in to the workplace. These connected tools can increase efficiencies across an organization, positively impacting operational processes.

According to IoT for All, "The Internet of Things is a new way to collect data about your operations and your customers. But because it uses physical sensors or devices it also allows you to interact with your operations and customers. Because these devices are out in the real world actively collecting information or interacting, they are like an extension of you, or your company’s representatives. They extend your ability to perceive and understand, to monitor and control. And because they are machines, they extend your ability to automate and optimize." IoT is here to stay for the foreseeable future and will continue to evolve with new innovative uses.


Cloud computing describes the act of storing, managing and processing data online, rather than on your own network or physical computer. 

'The cloud' has been a buzzword in the corporate world for a few years and has already been widely adapted. According to Spiceworks, the average company spends 21% of IT budgets is allocated to cloud-based services. Cloud computing has changed the way that the workplace has organized itself. There are different types of cloud set ups for the different needs of organizations, like security, storage size and budget. Benefits of the cloud technology include accessibility, flexibility, collaboration, scalability, cost savings, security, agility, and innovation. Companies need data to be available and modified in real time, meaning that cloud technology will continue grow into mainstream popularity and percentage of IT budget spend. IT businesses have that companies that fail to adopt the cloud in a timely manner risk becoming technology dinosaurs. 


AI-enabled machines are becoming increasingly present as we go about our day-to-day activities, and the workplace is not an exception. Cutting-edge businesses have adopted artificial Intelligence in numerous ways for different departments and needs. From the start of the job application process, AI can be used to pre-screen job candidates, and a fifth of Fortune 500 companies have used an AI-driven interviewing tool.

AI can make some people uncomfortable because it is often thought of as something that will replace humans and lead to job losses. According to Forbes, “AI machines will help us do our jobs more efficiently, rather than replace us. A key idea is that they will take over the mundane aspects of our role, leaving us free to do what humans do best – tasks which require creativity and human-to-human interaction.”

Recently, the New York Times highlighted a customer service centers that utilize AI. While a customer service representative in a insurance company's call center talks to a customer over the phone, AI can help coach the caller’s performance.

“Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an “energy cue,” with a picture of a coffee cup.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.”

Using A.I. to manage workers in conventional 9-to-5 jobs is controversial. It’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do. Representatives are able to get instant feedback in a way that a human supervisor couldn't provide. However, some employees see interaction with AI as dehumanizing, or fear that their position may be replaced by AI.

IBM has utilized Watson, its natural language question-answering AI platform, in countless applications since it was first introduced in 2010. Last year IBM used the supercomputer to help calculate employee raises with a high success rate. From winning a Jeopardy! challenge to recommending treatment options for lung cancer patients to business uses, Watson's AI can be used in a wide range of question answering. IBM is helping other companies become early adapters in AI with Watson. Personalized customer experiences, streamlined process, and minimized risk are now all possible with artificial intelligence. 


Employees receive more communications than ever before and are distributed more widely across the globe. There are dozens of general communication technologies in place, but how do organizations rise about the noise and get the attention of others when it really matters?

Critical communications for corporate safety can cover a wide range of incidents, including workplace harassment, wellness checks to remote employees, weather closings, reporting personnel issues, business disruptions and alerting employees in case of an emergency. Technology solutions now exists to address these challenges faced by organizations. 

Key personnel can communicate with employees in real-time during incident response. Geo-targeted notifications helps the right message get out to the right people. Remote employees can be easily checked in on with 2-way messaging. Anonymous tips empowers employees to share potentially life saving information without having to worry. Read our 2019 report below to learn how companies are preparing for workplace safety with technology. 

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

How Parking and Intake Practices Can Impact Hospital Safety

June 18, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

Hospital safetyAlthough creating a good impression during parking and intake can enhance the patient experience, patient transition zones can become first attack zones outside the usual perimeter of hospital security. With many hospitals reducing hospital security budgets, technology can provide a solution.

Numerous studies demonstrate hospital treatments tend to have more positive outcomes when patients trust their health care systems. The reason for trust being such an important factor is that patients with low levels of trust are more likely to suffer psychological distress and less likely to accept healthcare recommendations; while patients with high levels of trust will be more likely to attend follow-up appointments and be more accepting of therapies that require behavioral change.

Building trust starts with the first impression as patients enter the hospital environment. The parking and intake process - sometimes referred to as the “patient transition zone” - is the first opportunity hospitals have to create an impression, and it needs to be a good impression. Research conducted by Ohio State University's Fisher School of Business found that, when people form a first impression, they tend to stick with it and interpret subsequent signals consistent with the first impression - good or bad.

To provide the best possible first impression, some hospitals provide services such as valet parking and/or attendants whose job it is to “meet and greet” patients as they arrive to guide them through the intake process. In addition to providing useful and welcoming services, staff in the roles of valets and patient attendants help hospitals address the three primary factors that contribute to patients' bad first impressions - long wait times, poor communication, and a lack of empathy.

The Patient Transition Zone is Also the First Attack Zone

By their nature, patient transition zones are outside hospital premises and therefore outside the usual perimeter of hospital security. This leaves valets and patient attendants in the first line of attack without the same level of protection as employees within the hospital. Not only might they be the initial targets of an active shooter, they are also likely to be the subject of physical attacks if an event (i.e. a long wait or communication breakdown) triggers a violent reaction from an anxious patient or family member.

To address this issue, hospitals could expand the security perimeter and allocate security personnel to protect patient transition zones. These security officers would have to be trained in behavioral health to complement the training given to patient attendants; which would either involve spending more money at a time when many hospitals are trimming their security budgets, or diluting existing security inside the hospital premises at a time when hospitals are reporting an increase in security incidents.

An alternative solution is to issue staff working outside the security perimeter with employee safety apps. The apps can be used to call hospital security when concerns exist that a situation (caused - for example - by a long wait or communication breakdown) could escalate into a violent incident. The apps can also be used to collect anonymous tips from employees.

Why Mobile Employee Safety Apps are the Most Effective Solution

Mobile employee safety apps are widely used in many different environments to improve security responses to violent incidents. They are more accessible than wall-mounted or desk-mounted panic buttons (which would naturally be inappropriate in a patient transition zone with neither walls nor desks), and more reliable than wearable devices that connect with a central unit, because these systems inform 9-1-1 of the location of the central unit and not the location of the emergency.

Furthermore, when employees supply employees with wearable panic buttons, the employee has responsibility for keeping the panic button charged and remembering to wear it on duty. Few people forget to charge or carry their mobile devices; and while it may take a second longer to tap a mobile screen than press the button on a wearable device, the minutes saved by informing 9-1-1 or security immediately of the exact location and the nature of the emergency can save multiple lives.

protecting healthcare workers

How to Manage Tail Spend in Enterprise Communication Software

June 18, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

How to manage tail spend in enterprise communication softwareThe commonly quoted “statistic” that tail spend accounts for 20% of total purchasing costs - and is generated by 80% of suppliers - comes from the misapplication of the Pareto Principle. The Principle states “roughly 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes”; and although nobody really knows how much is spent in “off-contracted spend”, “non-PO spend”, “maverick spend”, or whatever term it is given, the 20% “statistic” is a convenient figure to use because it is large enough for enterprises to sit up and take notice, while not being too large a figure to seem incredulous.

However, in some areas, the “statistic” of 20% tail spend came and went a long time ago. In 2017, research company Gartner predicted 38% of IT spending was line of business “shadow” IT spending, and some analysts believe that, by 2020, “line of business technology investments will be almost on a par with that of the IT department”. That may not be the case in every area of business - or indeed for every enterprise - but when it comes to finding candidates for unmanaged tail spend, enterprise communication software is a leading contender.

Why Enterprise Communication Software Flies Under the Radar

In many respects the use of “shadow” enterprise communication software develops in the same way as shadow IT. Enterprises may have a contracted workplace communication system - like they may have a cloud-based compute infrastructure - but it doesn't necessarily do everything its users want it to. Take Slack for example. Many enterprises use Slack for its collaboration capabilities and it is claimed that using Slack in the workplace can half internals emails.

However, Slack can't do everything. It lacks automated mass notifications and task assignments. It has a complicated user interface disliked by many novice users, and it can be hard to search for previous messages or workflows. Most importantly for some departments (i.e. legal, finance, HR, etc.), Slack lacks the security of other enterprise communication software. Significantly, there's no end-to-end encryption - making data vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

Read More: Comparing Notification System Tools for Critical Communication

Because Slack (and most other enterprise communication software) can't please all the people all the time, users download alternate communication solutions - often starting at the free level before subscribing to the enterprise level to take advantage of the solution's full capabilities. This happens so often in cloud-based IT infrastructures - where resources can be launched with the click of a mouse - it is difficult not to see it happening with enterprise communication software.

It's not necessarily the case that tail spend on enterprise communication software always flies under the radar. In some enterprises it's presence is acknowledged, but nothing is done about it because a) there are too many other priorities, b) the scale of the problem is not understood, so addressing it does not seem justifiable, or c) the scale of the problem is understood and it's too big a problem to address because of streamlining multiple suppliers, processes, and policies into one.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack Procedures

How to Get Communication Tail Spend Back onto the Radar

Failing to address tail spend on enterprise communication software can result not only in unmanaged costs, but also a loss of business efficiency (due to different communication systems duplicating the same tasks), and an increased risk of data breaches and other security issues. Unfortunately there's no quick fix for getting communication tail spend back onto the radar as the tail end management process involves multiple steps:

#1 Identify the Scale of the Problem

If the enterprise does not yet understand the scale of the problem, it needs to retrieve data relating to how much is spent on enterprise communication software (authorized or not), and analyze the data in order to determine how much of total spend is tail spend.

#2 Identify Savings Opportunities

The analysis should uncover different communication systems duplicating the same roles, so there should be opportunities to eliminate multiple services in favor of one or two, with the preferred service providers being the ones that offer discounts for enterprise-scale subscriptions.

#3 Source and Contract

As mentioned earlier, no enterprise communication software can please all the people all the time, so source the solution most favored by the majority of users - and possibly a second solution to overcome the limitations of the first - and bring them under the control of procurement.

#4 Measure Reduction in Tail Spend

Once the first three steps are completed, go back to step #1 to analyze spend on enterprise communication software and measure the reduction in tail spend. It is also important to educate users in the risks associated with self-procurement to prevent tail spend returning to an unmanaged state.

One study by the Hackett Group (registration required) found that, on average, enterprises can achieve a 7.1% reduction in spend by better managing tail spend. Naturally this percentage is going to vary according to the scale of the problem in each individual enterprise; but, if costs can be reduced by 7.1%, it is logical to assume business efficiency will increase by a similar percentage and there will be an overall reduction in the enterprise's exposure to security threats.

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How This Dallas Nonprofit Manages Safety Amid Major Development

June 11, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

Downtown DallasThe downtown area of Dallas is in the midst of a major renaissance, adding high-rise towers with offices, restaurants and stores. The building boom has encouraged city leaders and local businesses to take a new approach to security planning for the downtown area, considering a variety of risks including fires, severe weather, and crime. 

The city was tested recently when a fire out of a local restaurant’s kitchen hit the downtown area. The incident, which occurred in February 2019, resulted in massive transit shutdowns and delays, though luckily no residents were injured. The fire spread to other parts of the city, causing a delay in service of all Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) modes and suspending transportation in other areas. With about 140,000 employees work in the downtown area and over 250,000 people employed in the city center, there’s a lot of necessary emergency communication to be done.

It takes an average of five minutes and 17 seconds for the fire department to respond to a fire nationwide (one minute and 15 seconds to get ready and four minutes and two seconds to reach their destination). There is very little time to notify the necessary people of an ongoing incident. The kitchen fire in downtown emphasized to local officials why fast and convenient emergency notification is an absolute necessity for local officials. 

Related Blog: What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

Downtown Dallas Inc. (DDI) is a private, non-profit advocacy group that facilitates funding in downtown Dallas for public safety issues, maintenance and repair, capital improvements, economic development and planning/transportation. The City of Dallas has a mass notification system, but the alerts are not specific to the downtown area. That's where DDI steps in, and the firm uses its own mass notification system to notify commercial property owners, operators and facility and security personnel of incidents, and then they alert their employees, residents and others. 

DDI sent out five alerts giving status updates on the fire, including the shutdown of a nearby DART stop and adjacent streets.

Martin Cramer, Vice President of DDI, says the focus of their alerts is just for the commercial, residential, hotels and schools within the downtown area. “We let them know if there’s a critical incident, such as a road closure, a fire or whatever impacts downtown as far as egress and getting people in and out of downtown, or if there’s an incident. They’ll get the message from us and they’ll blast it out internally.”

Related Article: Should Hotels be Offering Panic Buttons to Their Staff?

DDI uses their mass alert system to send about 150 email and text alerts a year, not counting follow-up messages, about all kind of incidents. Alert messages are sent to 1,700 owners, operators, and security and safety staff who are responsible for sharing that message internally with the employees and residents in that location. DDI is able to pre create templates so that a DDI or Office of Emergency Management administrator only needs to fill in the basics, such as dates, times, and what streets are affected in a particular area. Currently, DDI has 20-30 pre created templates at the ready.

DDI’s messages are targeted towards the more than 30 companies that have their headquarters in downtown Dallas, including AT&T, Comerica Bank, Hunt Oil and the Dallas Morning News. The downtown area also features over 190 shops, approximately 500 restaurants and 100 live music, art and cultural venues, as well as 52 acres of greenspace across 40 parks and plazas.

“A mass notification is a trusted message, where social media is great but there’s so much misinformation,” Cramer said. “Anybody can post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can’t trust it to be accurate. Coming from DDI or local government, you can trust that messaging.”

While the city of Dallas has its own mass notification software, DDI specifically keeps up with events and alerts people in the downtown area.  Learn more in our latest case study! New call-to-action

Do We Underestimate How Much Nurses Deal with on a Daily Basis?

June 4, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Do We Underestimate How Much Nurses Deal with on a Daily Basis?State Senator Maureen Walsh of Washington angered nurses across the nation. Walsh made remarks on the senate floor in April 2019 while discussing a bill that would ensure nurses receive uninterrupted meal and rest breaks so that they can provide the highest quality patient care.

The Senator had issues with the bill and proposed a surprise amendment, along with commentary about what nurses do. Her inaccurate comments gained national attention, causing an uproar among nurses and their supporters.

Washington Senator Walsh said the following when discussing a proposed state bill HB 1155:

“I understand helping with employees and making sure that we have rest breaks and things like that. But I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost. And by putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of hospitals.  I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Not surprisingly, Walsh’s statement quickly received a negative reaction from the public and went viral. Nurses everywhere are responding that they are actually busy saving lives and rarely receive their lawful breaks.

The Washington State Hospital Association’s President and CEO, Cassie Sauer, posted a statement confirming that they do not support Senator Walsh’s amendment. The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) says Senator Walsh’s recent comments are not only disrespectful but also, “one of the most demeaning statements on the nursing profession since Joy Behar’s 2015 ‘doctor’s stethoscope’ comments on The View.” The public's reaction did not end there. 

Backlash for Senate Floor Remarks

A petition has been created for Senator Maureen Walsh to shadow a nurse for a twelve-hour shift. The popular petition was started by a nurse in Chicago, Juliana Bindas, asking Ms. Walsh to spend a day shadowing a nurse so she could gain a deeper understanding of what a nurse’s basic shift is like.

“Nurses don’t really have time to even take a bathroom break, let alone play a deck of cards,” Ms. Bindas said. “It is completely false. We are busy taking care of your family members; we are making sure our patients are comfortable.”

A State Senator Who Said Nurses ‘Play Cards’ While on the Job May Shadow One(Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

The petition is not the only negativity faced by Ms. Walsh for her comments on nurses. Her office has received mail bins full of playing cards from people who did not appreciate her commentary. The senator said she had received hundreds of decks of cards and thousands of phone calls protesting her comments.

Two days after Walsh’s senate floor remarks, the WSNA website crashed after too many people viewed a blog post describing Walsh's comments as disrespectful and patronizing.

There has also been a flurry of activity on social media. Nurses voiced their frustrations with humor and gave onlookers a glimpse of a nurse’s typical day. Here's a sample of how Twitter reacted:

About the Bill & Amendment

The bill that was being discussed at the time of Senator’s Walsh’s comments was House Bill 1155. The bipartisan bill mandates uninterrupted meal and rest periods for nurses. Walsh was pushing for an amendment that would exempt smaller, rural hospitals from this mandate.

This bill hopes to close a loophole in the mandatory overtime law for frontline healthcare workers. Walsh’s proposed amendment, SB 5344, would keep worker protections at status quo or rolls them back at “critical access” hospitals, which usually have 25 beds or fewer in rural areas with small populations.

Recent reports suggest that smaller, rural hospitals would not benefit from Walsh’s amendment. Kate Rogers has written for CNBC about how the nation has been facing a nursing shortage and how this shortage may be worse among rural hospitals. Denying uninterrupted breaks and imposing overtime would make recruiting nurses to rural hospitals even more challenging.

Ms. Bindas, creator of the petition, spoke about the need for nurse breaks with the New York Times. “If there was a way we could have an uninterrupted lunch break it would be important not only for the physical but mental and emotional as well,” she said. “So you can also take care of yourself.”

In her follow up statement, Walsh has doubled down in her support of excluding small hospitals from the meal and rest break requirements.

"[House Bill 1155] will impose inflexible staffing requirements on hospitals that will dramatically increase their costs. I am worried that 61 of our critical access hospitals, those small-town hospitals with 25 beds or fewer, are already operating in the red. This will make them redder, and I am worried this added cost will force some of them to close. It isn’t proper for the Legislature to micromanage the way hospitals manage their staffing." 

Registered nurses at critical access hospitals in rural parts of the country spoke out to say there is “no good reason to exempt patients at critical access hospitals from safety standards”. Nicole Worley, a nurse at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco, Washington, wrote an opinion column, defending why hospitals like hers should not be exempt from these rights, including financially. 

“Contrary to some claims, the majority of Washington’s critical access hospitals are financially stable and can afford to hire one or two extra employees to ensure patients are safe and fully covered. According to Washington Department of Health data, for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the total surplus income for the 40 WA critical access hospitals was $208,657,776. No more than 30 percent of critical access hospitals have negative margins in any given year, and that is usually due to short-term factors such as capital expansions.” states Worley.

1+ Minute Video: Is Healthcare lagging behind in safety communications?

Concern Over Long Hours

On the senate floor in April, Walsh made several claims about the nursing profession.

“If nurses get tired, let's stop letting them do 12 hours shifts, let's make them do 8-hour shifts. 12 hours, I know they want it but, then they come back and start talking out of both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are," says Senator Walsh.

Three 12-hour shifts a week is a common schedule for hospital nurses. Some people incorrectly view this as nurses working “only” three days a week. This allows nurses to have a flexible schedule and hopefully achieve work-life balance. The amendment would a require nurses to work five days a week to earn full-time pay. But nurses don’t choose this profession for the schedule. Nurses work these long shirts first and foremost for their patients.

One of the most significant benefits for nurses who work 12-hour shifts is continuity of care. Rather than a patient having three nurses in a 24-hour period, they have two: a day nurse and a night nurse. This rapport has been proven to help to improve outcomes and recovery. Longer shifts also help reduce communication related errors. The Joint Commission reported that at least 80% of serious medical errors result from a miscommunication between caregivers during handoff.

Nurses have also shared their experiences with these shifts, and 12-hour shifts are rarely only 12 hours. A 12-hour shift can easily run more than two hours over because nurses usually stay to hand off to other nurses, check on their patients and write reports. Nurses aren’t able to walk away the moment their shift changes if they are in the middle of helping a patient.

The Washington State Hospital Association was surprised by the amendment. “A nurse could be in the middle of a life-saving surgical procedure and there would be no exception to allow them to stay and complete their work” says Sauer. There are drawbacks to 12-hour shifts, but this type of schedule was developed and is standard primarily at the request of nurses, according to Sauer's blog post.

Senator Walsh says she offered the amendment limiting nurses to eight-hour shifts “to show there is more than one way to address labor’s argument that nurses are fatigued after working longer shifts.”

Senator Walsh’s Apology

Senator Walsh has apologized since making her senate floor remarks. It is clear that she regrets making the comments. On April 22, the senator issued a statement via press release.  Although the media has blown up and taken the quote out of context, Walsh admits her remarks crossed the line.  She said she was trying to point out that the staffing needs of smaller, rural hospitals were different from those of the larger hospitals. “I really don’t believe nurses at our critical access hospitals spend their days playing cards, but I did say it, and I wish I could reel it back,” she said in the statement.

The executive director of the Washington State Nurses Association, Sally Watkins, said she did not think that a hospital’s size, location or number of beds ought to make a difference. “It should not matter where a nurse works: All nurses should have a break,” Dr. Watkins said.

In regards to her eight-hour shift amendment suggestion, Walsh has listen to the public’s feedback: “The thousands of nurses who have contacted my office have told me loud and clear that there are many who prefer to work 12-hour shifts so they can spend more time with their families. In recognition of that, I support the removal of the amendment and am confident it will be stripped off.” Walsh says in her statement.

Walsh has profusely apologized for her insensitive and inaccurate comments, and has acknowledged the viral petition: “I understand from news accounts that a petition is being circulated urging me to spend a day shadowing a nurse at a local hospital for 12 hours, and walk a mile in her shoes,” she said. “I look forward to receiving it and am happy to accept.” At this time, is it not apparent if Senator Walsh has shadowed a nurse’s shift yet.

In the end, the Washington State Legislature passed SHB 1155! The bill was signed by the governor on May 8 and the bill will go into effect in 2020. The final bill provides commonsense break and overtime protections to all nurses and techs in all hospitals across the state – with no eight-hour workday limit and no exclusion of Critical Access Hospitals.

According to the Washington State Nurses Association, “this bill will provide needed relief to nurses and other frontline health care workers – and, most importantly, it will help keep patients safe.”

2018 Healthcare Survey Report 

A Macro Issue Is Brewing For Women in Economics

June 4, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Women in economicsThe entertainment industry and politics have felt a long overdue reckoning from the #MeToo moment, weeding out harassers and abusers out of positions of power in their industries. Some argue that the world of economics has gone largely unscathed so far, but not due to a lack of incidents.

Despite the wider #MeToo movement, many women in the financial advisory industry who have been sexually harassed are still reluctant to come forward and report the abuse.

Related Blog: Sexual Harassment in Hollywood and the Similarities to the  Everyday Workplace

It’s no surprise that sexual harassment is an issue in financial services, as shown in many surveys. In a new survey, nearly 62 percent of respondents who were harassed or witnessed harassment said they did not use the protocols those firms have in place to address the incident. That number is nearly 66 percent for women.

There are many reasons respondents did not report incidents. Some feared they would be socially excluded within the office, or that their offender would retaliate. In some instances, the offender was the victim’s manager, making matters more complicated, or they worked in a culture where that their complaint would not be taken seriously.

Read More: Understanding Workplace Violence against Women

“The culture was such that I did not believe management would do anything,” wrote one respondent of the WealthManagement survey. “When I mentioned it to management in my annual review (not a formal complaint or filing), they laughed and said it was ‘the nature of the beast.’”

Nearly 80 percent of financial advisers in a recent InvestmentNews survey said sexual harassment is a problem in the financial advice industry. More than 60 percent of the 345 participants in the survey were male.

Three in 10 advisers said they'd personally experienced sexual harassment — including assault, unwanted contact or requests, or suggestive remarks or messages — in the workplace. Five in 10 said they'd witnessed or experienced sexual harassment in the industry at least a couple of times.

Have enough changes been made to address sexual harassment in workplaces?

In 1996, nearly 2,000 women joined a case against Smith Barney Inc, for sexual harassment and pay discrimination. This case, nicknamed the “boom-boom room” suit, gained public attention and exposed the sordid antics of Wall Street.

Twenty years later, this change is less obvious.

“You may no longer have strippers coming for afternoon entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you are treated as an equal,” said Anne C. Vladeck of the New York employment law firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. “It’s not quite as blatant as what went on in the boom-boom room, but it’s still there in a way that makes it very hard for women to succeed. Companies on Wall Street are just not changing.”

“If it’s a high producer within the firm who’s doing the harassing, you’re going to find a lot of the times that there’s even less stomach by the firm to go after that person and hold them accountable precisely because they are making the firm so much money,” says Eric Bachman, a principal with Zuckerman Law, where he is the chair of the discrimination and retaliation practices.

Many in financial services chalk it up to an industry norm, an ingrained culture, one where victims are trained to develop a thick skin and move on.

Women have been told time and time again, either verbally or through inaction, that harassment isn’t a big deal. You should just put on thicker skin and get over it.” says Alan Moore, co-founder of XY Planning Network.

“And so we haven’t given women a way to actually end the harassment without basically having to quit their job and move on.” He continues. Rather than speaking up, some victims choose to go to another firm or, in some instances, leave the economics world altogether.

Read the Latest Workplace Violence Statistics

In the early 1990’s inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues was embedded in the industry culture. In today’s culture this behavior still persists in a more closeted, one-on-one fashion rather than industry-wide.

Female advisers agreed that while the industry atmosphere for women is better today than in the past, it is probably still worse than in most other industries because of the high ratio of men to women. For example, of the more than 83,000 professionals holding a certified financial planner designation at the end of 2018, only 23 percent were female, according to CFP Board statistics.

On March 18, 2019, the American Economic association (AEA) released the results from the survey of 9,000 economists about the professional climate in economics. According to the AEA, the findings demonstrate that many members of the profession have suffered harassment and discrimination during their careers. This includes overt acts of abuse and subtler forms of marginalization. A full analysis remains to be done, but the results are cause for concern.

The 47-question survey was sent in November 2018 to more than 45,000 current and former AEA members. 9,000 responded, about 20 percent of those who were asked, which is a high rate for a voluntary survey.

Leaders in the economics field are appropriately “concerned and disturbed” over what the survey revealed. Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chief who will take over as president of the association next year, said the raw numbers made the extent of the profession’s problems clear. She said that survey results show showed “an unacceptable culture” in the profession. The AEA Executive Committee has agreed to take additional steps that include establishing a formal policy on harassment and discrimination. Economists that violate the new anti-harassment code will face professional sanction, including the potential loss of prestigious awards.

The New York Times Reports that “Nearly 100 female economists say a peer or a colleague has sexually assaulted them. Nearly 200 say they were the victim of an attempted assault. And hundreds say they were stalked or touched inappropriately” according to the survey. Half of the women who responded to the survey said they had been treated unfairly because of their sex, compared with 3 percent of men.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

People of color and those who don’t identify as heterosexual are also far more likely to report disrespect in the field. The survey reports that only 14 percent of black economists and 25 percent of gay and lesbian economists agree that they “are respected within the field.” Women and other minority groups are making substantial strides of progress and leadership roles in many STEM fields. However, economics remains dominated by white men.

  • 48% of women experienced discrimination based on sex
  • 69% of women felt that their work was not taken as seriously as colleagues
  • 48% of women have not presented a question or idea to avoid harassment
  • 23% of women have not applied for or taken a job to avoid harassment

“It’s bad for economics,” Mr. Bernanke said. “It’s very unfair to those who are suffering that discrimination, because economics is a fascinating and interesting and lucrative field, and we don’t want to be excluding people for no good reason. We appear to be dissuading talented people from entering the field.”

According to the New York Times, the survey, if anything, “probably understates the problems. Despite efforts to reach former members, it left out many people who left the profession after facing discrimination or harassment, or who decided against becoming economists at all.”

A “discipline-wide reporting system” to document abuse has been called for by many young economists and upcoming leaders in the field. Instances of harassment and abuse often cross institutional lines. The newly created ombudsman position is an attempt to address this challenge by the AEA.

Women said the results were not, on one level, a surprise, confirming what many have experienced. But they said there was value in having numbers that show how widespread the problems are.

What other employees are saying about workplace safety

As economists, numbers are important. Rave recently conducted a workplace survey that reflects similar high levels of abuse in surprising fields like economics. We've compiled the results from several corporate fields in our annual survey: 

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

The Role Communication Plays in Workplace Safety for Nurses

May 21, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

workplace safety for nursesEven though the healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States, reports show that rates of violent workplace incidents are higher for nurses and medical practitioners on average. Communication is critical during incidents and plays a major role in workplace safety for nurses. 

There are currently 3.9 million Resident Nurses, 4 million home care aides, 270,000 Nurse Practictioners and 724,500 LPNs/LVNs in the U.S. and women account for 87% of the overall nursing workforce. Statistics show that nurses endure staggering amounts of physical and verbal abuse, often from the patients they treat.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace violence is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. U.S. healthcare workers experience the most nonfatal workplace injuries compared to other professions, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Healthcare and social assistance workers make up only 12.2% of the workforce, but nearly 75% of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare industry. There are four main types of workplace violence against healthcare workers - criminal intent, patient or patient’s family, employee-on-employee, or a personal relationship.

The number of workplace violence incidents has risen over the past decade, which can be due to a variety of factors. These include wait-times, budget cuts resulting in less security staff, states cutting funding for preventative mental health services, psychiatric patients going to emergency rooms for treatment, and staff unsure what constitutes violence. All types of nurses are susceptible to workplace violence, including home care nurses or workers.

There are several main impacts of the nurse safety epidemic. The first is financial - though nursing employment rates are growing faster than any other occupation, there is still a staffing shortage due to workplace violence incidents, among other factors such as an aging workforce and the influx of patients. The American Nurses Association (ANA) predicts more than 1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022 to fulfill healthcare needs in the U.S. For hospitals and healthcare facilities. The shortage will lead to higher rates of patient dissatisfaction, as well as negative patient outcomes, such as higher readmissions, medication errors, and increased patient mortality.

States Are Taking The Lead To Protect Nurses

No federal law currently requires hospitals and healthcare facilities to implement programs to prevent workplace violence. As a result, various states have passed laws and guidelines to protect nurses and other healthcare personnel. A handful of states require employer run workplace violence programs, while others designate penalties for assaults against nurses or other healthcare workers. 

A few states have passed significant legislation to better care for nurses. In Oregon, assaulting a nurse is considered a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $125,000 in fines. The state of New York classifies a physical attack against an RN or LPN as a Class D felony, subject to a maximum of seven years in prison. Legislative efforts will also hold organizations accountable for not making the premises and operations safe.

Being prepared ahead of time for “what if” can help organizations protect their nursing personnel and handle workplace violent incidents. But more can be done. According to Rave Mobile Safety’s Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends in Healthcare (Healthcare Survey), 29% of emergency managers and other supervisors said workplace violence was their biggest safety concern, yet only 32% ran drills once a year while 33% never ran drills. 

Investing in emergency preparedness may be expensive, but the damage done to healthcare organizations is more costly. The AHA estimates that U.S. hospitals spend $233 million a year on emergency preparedness training, with approximately $174.6 million of that amount being focused on violence-related issues The average out-of-court settlement for a workplace violence lawsuit is about $500,000, while the average jury award is approximately $3 Million. The cost for hospitals to provide uncompensated or insufficiently compensated care and treatment to victims of violence totaled $852.2 million. In addition, absenteeism related to workplace violence can cost hospitals $53.7 million per year.

Keeping Two-Way Communications Part of the Job

Hospitals and healthcare facilities must maintain continuity of operations while handling numerous challenges. The nature of healthcare facilities makes it particularly challenging to get messages out to their personnel, especially during a public health emergency or a critical event. Mass text messaging (92%), email (91%), and phone tree/voicemail (89%) are the top modes of communication hospitals and healthcare facilities use when they need to reach their personnel about workplace emergencies, including violent incidents. Emergency alerts through mass text messaging is the number-one preferred communication method whether healthcare professionals are working off-site or in the office, the Workplace Survey said.

FREE REPORT: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends

A mass notification system that allows hospitals and healthcare facilities to communicate with all of their personnel, whether they’re on-site, working in the field or traveling to different locations, is vital for continuity of business operations, especially during an emergency. Having a system that enables nursing supervisors, emergency managers, other officials, and their nursing staff to communicate with each other before a workplace violence incident occurs or seconds after is important to ensure everyone’s safety.

geo-poll-healthAn automated polling module, a feature within a mass notification system, can be used to further assist nurses, especially those who travel to care for patients. The polling feature adds an extra layer of protection for traveling nursing personnel, who often work in isolation and may need to resolve issues without immediate help from their employers or coworkers. If an incident occurs and a healthcare organization needs to do a wellness check on traveling staff, it can use an automated poll through SMS text, email and voice to determine where the workers are located and if they are safe. When traveling staff responds to this poll, they can automatically share their real-time location, even if nursing personnel hasn’t downloaded a personal safety app.

Making Safety More Personal

Safety and security for nurses go beyond metal detectors, surveillance cameras, controlled access to certain departments and other workplace emergency exercises.Healthcare organizations and nurses have to be ready for any type of violent incident. Safety managers must look out for their emotional and physical well-being, whether they’re in the office, walking to their car in the parking lot, or on the road traveling. 

Workplace violence incidents in healthcare are compounded because nurses don’t always report incidents, or the extent of a violent incident, to their employers. Many of these workers accept violence as part of the job, believe they didn’t sustain serious injuries, or are afraid of repercussions from supervisors. One solution to this dilemma is using a personal safety app. Many of these workers accept violence as part of the job, and believe they didn’t sustain serious injuries, will be ignored or will get in trouble with supervisors.

A personal safety app would include an emergency call button, as well as the ability for nurses to discreetly submit two-way tips anonymously, such as witnessing a sexual harassment incident. The app also allows nurse personnel to keep in contact with hospital security through a virtual escort. An emergency call button, also known as a distress call button, in an employee safety app can directly connect to an organization’s security staff.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities must maintain daily operations, but these organizations are  also grappling with how best to protect their nurses as they care for more patients, often in highly volatile and unpredictable situations. A mass notification system would enable hospitals and healthcare facilities to quickly and efficiently alert their nursing staff about a violent incident, as well as let them know what actions to take to keep them safe and secure. In addition, a personal safety app would be part of a healthcare organizations’ notification system.

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