The use of CPR Guardian wearable technology as a solution to the operational issues of working with lone workers

Someone To Watch Over Me

White Paper  |  Lone Working & Wearable Technology   |  2024


This White Paper: The use of CPR Guardian wearable technology as a solution to the operational issues of working with lone workers.

Professor Nick Rich


What is Lone Working?

Lone Working is defined as “work carried out by people who work by themselves or without close supervision” (Health and Safety Executive HSE). The definition covers many roles in industry, the public and private services as well as the maintenance repair and overhaul sectors. These workers are, by the nature of their employment, exposed to more risks than those with more typical job roles. These workers are often subject to working conditions and work times that are considered ‘unsocial’. Many lone workers also operate at night and this time period impacts negatively on the human body and thinking processes (circadian rhythm). In short, we make more mistakes at night because we are tired and our brains are not functioning as well as they would during daytime conditions. Other lone workers face even more severe environments where there are potentials for physical violence when conducting work (during the day or night time visits).

What are the Types of Lone Working

The different types and job roles that have some form of lone working is wide ranging and if often comes as a surprise to organisations that they have a duty of care to workers that fall into these categories:  

-          Process plant working including the production of steel, aluminium, smelting, and refining. Power generation equipment and facility maintenance.

-          Logistics hubs and ports where physical land estates are large and where workers travel long distances. Delivery drivers and ‘last mile’ of the supply chain workers.

-          Management of wind turbines in agricultural settings.

-          District nurses and domiciliary care workers visiting patients in their homes.

-          First responder and advanced practice paramedics who conduct home visits.

-          Security staff including night working and mobile ‘multi site’ security services.

-          Divers, maritime engineering, aircraft pilots and train operators (drivers and on-board staff).

-          Representatives of religious groups who visit the private houses of citizens.

-          Taxi drivers, professional drivers, and chaffeurs.

-          Certain forms of home working or living in workers.

-          Night call line operators or staff working at community shelters.

-          Door staff or staff who walk/travel home from a venue  to home.


The Risks of Lone Working

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations means that employers must demonstrate that they and continue to manage the risk to lone workers. This includes a full understanding of the risks and hazards to each member of staff or subcontractor as well as the provision of training and maintaining contact with staff/contractors to respond to any incident. It is also a demand that any subcontractor must ask about what risks and control measures are in place whilst they are working at someone else's workplace to ensure they are protected.

The Role of the Employer

According to the HSE “As an employer, you must manage any health and safety risks before people can work alone. This applies to anyone contracted to work for you, including self-employed people.  Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:

  • as delivery drivers, health workers or engineers
  • as security staff or cleaners
  • in warehouses or petrol stations
  • at home”

The Size of the Problem

-          There are 8 million lone workers of the 32 million working population of the UK

-          The HSE reports significant numbers of attacks on lone workers each day which results in significant lost working days to employers

-          The UK HSE will tighten regulations and expect more evidence that employers are taking all reasonable actions to protect their lone working employees, home lone workers and on-site contractors.


The Penalties for Poor Management of Lone Workers

The penalties of not conforming to national and international regulations are severe and include damage through processes of litigation, grievance procedures, failed inspections, risks to production, environmental damage and reputational damage to the employer/site owner. The costs of non-conformance are immense and go well beyond any incident to include higher insurance premiums and greater costs to recover from any such failure.


According to the HSE, “There will always be greater risks for lone workers without direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong”. The greatest challenge for lone workers therefore involves:

  1. How best to monitor the worker without interfering in their work (vital signs. Locations etc.).
  2. How to react to an incident or cause for concern that is raised by the employee (or contractor) in a timely manner and whenever it is raised in the day (including outside the normal working hours of other employer staff).

The solutions to these needs include:

  • The Push model where workers are contacted (by the employer or a third party organisation) to ensure the worker is safe and sound.
  • The Pull model where workers call upon designated staff (who may or may not be available) when an incident happed or concern is detected, and help is needed.
  • The hybrid model where both the objectives of the push and pull models can be integrated in a timely manner.

The hybrid model offers the most advantages but only if the solution offers:

  • Monitoring routines (in the background) which do not distract the worker from their duties,
  • How monitoring can be used as a ‘trigger’ to pull support services even where the worker is unaware of this need (such as a deterioration in their health whilst on site or travelling),
  • How workers can get automatic warnings when they are entering restricted areas,
  • Automatic alarms to trigger the employee to contact site operations and ‘report in’ at predetermined times or receive periodic reminders, and
  • Offer a ‘panic’ button immediate call to a support centre that can coordinate a response to any abnormality or event  that has been seen or impacted on the worker.


The most effective form of worker protection is to allow the worker to export their own information in a perpetual and non-intrusive manner but to trigger a response from support workers and organisations when needed.

The Role of Wearable Technologies

Many modern devices can now communicate with the internet. Our cars communicate with satellite navigation systems and other apps as just one example. So the technology is available and has become embedded in wearable technologies such as the CPR Guardian range of watches and their associated monitoring services. The technology is significantly advanced and, as a solution for lone workers, has many advantages over traditional forms of contacting and monitoring workers. These advantages include:

  • The technology and real time monitoring of location (including setting “geo fences” that warn when a person enters an area to which they do not have access),
  • The monitoring of worker vital signs (heart rate, activity, body temperature) including the altitude of the watch from the floor (which indicates if the person is stood upright or has fallen), and
  • The ability to talk directly to a support centre and range of contact numbers if an incident was to occur as the most basic functions.

Voice of the Worker

Our research shows that workers want a device that fits into their way of working (including the operating environment of the worker) and does not require ‘work arounds’ to export data. Workers also expressed the value of the wearable as being able to keep them safe, the technology is reliable, the battery life is good, and it offers access support the moment it is needed.


Voice of the Employer

The value of a device, from the eyes and perspective of the employer, was to provide a safe system for employees and contractors in a way that meets national regulations and supports the employer’s duty of care to employees and contractors. The other significant ‘employer wants’ included durability, reliability, and costs of the technology as well as the history and memory that could be offered.

The Issues with Wearable Technology

There are many drawbacks with traditional and many modern wearable technologies including the interference and risks posed by necklace and pendants which hang form the workers neck. These technologies represent choke risks especially when in industrial environments or where care staff are interacting with patients (children or adults) with cognitive issues and where a patient could ‘grab’ the pendant and expose the worker to harm.

Mobile technology that is not strictly wearable includes apps on mobile phones. The problems with this solution concerns the working environment and the exposure of the hardware (phone) when it comes into contact with moisture, is dropped or exposed to cold conditions. The propensity for most screens on mobile phones to shatter and render the device useless is high even when dropped from a modest height. Our research shows the wristwatch offers more stability and is less likely to be exposed to such conditions. The watch is also less intrusive as a technology for both employers and employees.

One-touch SOS devices are used as ‘panic buttons’ with either a hard wired option where the device is located in the workplace or a mobile device that accesses a dedicated help team.


The CPR Guardian Watch Solution

The research team, funded by Innovate UK (a Government Body which sponsors applied research between university staff and business), shows how the CPR Guardian watch supports the worker and employer needs from our “needs analysis”  with businesses that operated with lone workers.

The Product-Service Combination (of the watch and dedicated support team and other teams who can be informed when the employee needs it) provides a complete one-stop service of push, pull, and hybrid data processing. In a normal and uneventful shift, the watch and support services go unnoticed. The passive monitoring of the watch for the vital signs of the worker provides an non-intrusive approach to but has the ability to escalate concerns (based on algorithms) to support services without inhibiting the worker but allowing a much quicker response to any detected   abnormality and the instantaneous access to a support team ‘on demand’.

The Researched Benefits of the Watch Solution

The economic justification of adopting the watch solution for the employer duty of care concerns the cost justification of buying the watch (hardware) and the monthly service charge which provides access to the dedicated service centre and the benefits generated by wearing a device that performs such a wide range of functions beyond the abilities of a simple ‘panic button’ device.

The cost of the watch             = £200

The Service contract               = £20 per month         = £240 per year

The 5 year costs total costs of the watch                   = £1400

The Traditional System         

Labour costs of onsite personnel (support to the lone worker) as well as regular medical check ups and systems that are lagged in terms of response to a ‘panic’ alarm triggered by the lone worker.     

The Cost-Justification Evaluation, which must be conducted, by each organisation but costs of £1400 over  a 5 year period shows an average monthly cost of £24 or £0.70 a day per employee that operates and uses the watch during their working (and potentially home life if the watch is used in both locations).


Solution-Incurred  Costs

Cost Avoidance

Wearable technology with no interruption to working routines.

Worker Friendly

Hardware costs (Watch purchase)

No costs of on-site monitoring staff or third party.

Lifecycle of the watch before replacement 

Several Years

Service Management Monitoring (monthly charge)

Constant monitoring and history via watch capabilities (lower administrative costs).

Demonstrable commitment to a duty of care with employees (tracking)



Less burden of central staff to track and detect the location of employees and subcontractors.



Supplementary data  for safe, fire and evacuation registers of personnel on site (lower emergency preparedness and actual event administration). 


This paper has presented the case for a wearable technology as a thought paper concerning the use of CPR Guardian wearable technology as a solution to the operational issues of working with lone workers.

Interested? Then your next steps should be to please contact Ms. Chelsea Davies or visit CPR Guardian Watch.

About the authors

Professor Nick Rich is a world-renowned expert in High Performance (quality) and Highly Reliable Organizational (safety) design. Nick has written over 100 publications, he is an adviser to multiple governments, he has written 10 books, and he holds the Toyota Motor Corporation Fellowship of Japan. He was the Chief Industrial Engineer at the Royal Mint for the production of the Olympic and Paralympic Games medals (London 2012). He is an adviser to a number of Governments and Royal families.

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