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Mobile IoT: Article

Five Ways Mobile Apps Help Keep Employees Safe

Alleviate worker safety concerns and allow managers and employees to focus on what they do best

Ensuring a safe work environment can be accomplished when individuals work in either a government or private-sector office, but it becomes exponentially more complicated when employees are mobile, traveling from one job or worksite to another. While many organizations implement mobile workforce management solutions to make their operations and staff more efficient, there is another less known, but equally as important, benefit: the ability to offer greater protection of the mobile workforce. Here's a look at five ways that mobile workforce management solutions can help keep workers safe:

Find Your Employees at a Moment's Notice
GPS, or global positioning satellite, technology is standard in today's mobile devices. By providing staff with GPS-enabled mobile phones, managers can use an application to make sure that employees are where they're supposed to be and all work is progressing as planned. GPS also enables managers to quickly check on the location of an employee if he or she hasn't checked in recently and they need to ensure all is well. Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, a non-profit organization, relies on GPS and a mobile workforce management solution to find drivers who are picking up donations from homes and transferring merchandise from their donation centers to retails stores. If a driver does not arrive as planned, Goodwill managers can leverage GPS capabilities in the driver's phone to see if he or she is en route or at a planned destination.

Know If and When Employees Enter or Leave Specific Areas
Geofencing enables employers to denote a specific geographic territory for their mobile workers. With geofencing, managers can easily set up geographic boundaries where employees are expected to be and have the app send a notification if an individual crosses in or out of that area. For example, public safety organizations, including police departments in major U.S. cities, use geofencing as part of a mobile workforce management solution to proactively identify whether an officer has entered an area where they typically need back up. Once the movement has been identified, additional officers can be dispatched to provide assistance.

Follow Job Progress
By logging job start and stop time, the process of workers informing office personnel when they arrive and depart a location can be automated, and the knowledge of the expected workflow can provide insight as to whether a worker is safe. Job start and stop time mobile workforce management apps that track job workflow can be pre-configured to notify managers if a job is not progressing as planned. With that information, managers or dispatchers can contact the worker to find out why there is a delay and if the employee is safe. This process is commonly used also by departments with workers in the field handling uncertain and potentially risky situations, such as city code enforcers that have to issue citation notices door-to-door.

Alert You to Potential Problems
Text or email alerts are useful capabilities to notify managers immediately of many conditions in the field. Alerts can be set up to be triggered by specific information, such as whether a worker is overdue to start their shift or hasn't clocked out for the day. These types of alerts can be useful for home healthcare organizations, whose workers visit residences that may be unfamiliar to them or in a sketchy neighborhood. If these employees are in a potentially dangerous situation and don't start or finish their jobs on time, managers can be alerted to check on the workers' welfare.

Have Your Employees' Backs
Reporting capabilities that are inherent with many solutions not only help managers make their mobile workforce more efficient, they also offer workers protection from liability and criminal charges. Using historical information, managers can view employee location and activity logs at the touch of a button. This information can provide insight into how an employee behaved on a job and if they were where they said they were at a given time. For example in the private sector, garage door products maker Wayne-Dalton used historical reporting of driver activity to counter a claim against one of its drivers, who was accused of leaving the scene of an accident. The report, which relied on GPS data, showed that the driver did turn around at the next exit and had returned to the scene of the accident.

While the productivity and operational benefits of mobile workforce management solutions are well known, organizations also can take comfort that the use of this technology can help keep their employees safe and protect them from liabilities. By leveraging the information they receive from mobile workforce management solutions used in field operations, government agencies can alleviate worker safety concerns and allow managers and employees to focus on what they do best.

More Stories By Howard Latham

Howard Latham is vice president of sales and customer success at Xora (www.xora.com), a leader in mobile workforce management.

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