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Employee Safety Devices & Panic Buttons

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on August 17, 2021 at 2:24 PM

More than 60 hotel companies in the American Hotel & Lodging Association pledged to provide service workers with panic buttons as part of their commitment to the 5-Star Promise initiative, a promise in the hospitality industry to improve employee safety. The idea is simple: to give employees a means to protect themselves.

But the question is, are panic buttons worth it?

To answer that, you have to understand a different question: what are the negatives of employee safety devices or panic buttons? Here’s a breakdown so that you can make the right call for your employees.

What Are Panic Buttons?

An employee safety device is often referred to by its most recognizable component: the panic button. And while that’s the component that comforts employees most, an employee safety device is a bit more complex.

Generally, an employee safety device is a device, service, or app that allows employees to communicate with employers (and sometimes even emergency services). An app or service requires wireless connectivity, while devices are usually Bluetooth enabled.

These devices can be simple or complex. A basic emergency signaling tool may only include a panic button, while more advanced tools may offer a complete suite of software like clock-in and clock-out features.

Why Are They Used?

Employees know these devices as panic buttons because the panic button is the reason so many employers are now investing in them–especially in the hospitality industry.

After the Me Too movement spread through hospitality like wildfire, more than 5,000 hotels and resorts in the U.S. offered safety devices and training for employees, all aimed at tackling sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

The goal of these devices is to protect employees who are working alone, working in isolated areas, or meeting someone they don’t know. Of course, in hospitality, meeting someone you don’t know is part of your job. The notion behind panic buttons is simple: to give employees an easy way to signal for help in an unsafe situation.

What Are the Negatives of Employee Safety Devices or Panic Buttons?

Though industry leaders and labor activists agree that such tools can be effective in protecting hotel employees, industry leaders and activists diverge on what to do next and what’s most effective for protecting employees. And while panic buttons certainly provide a layer of protection, they also have downsides.

First, we should distinguish between an employee safety device and a panic button. An employee safety device, in this context, refers to a more sophisticated tool, whereas a panic button largely refers to a device that emits a shrill alarm or a loud whistle. Panic buttons are a component of employee safety devices, but not all panic buttons can be considered complete employee safety devices.

People refer to panic buttons because the technology is familiar. The downside is that it’s not as effective. For one thing, a device that simply emits a loud noise won’t do any good if there’s no one there to hear it. For another, the basic panic button hardware can’t be updated to include a sophisticated safety alert system, which means technology will quickly leave these devices behind.

Instead of a simple panic button, employers should look for a safety monitoring system which includes employee safety devices. This allows employers to find employees in a hurry and allows employees to make the right call to the right person when they need it.

Make the Right Safety Decision for Your Team

Ready to make the right safety decisions for your team? We’re here to support you, with safety management software that makes it easy to integrate data from all your safety solutions so that you can make the right call.

Sound good? Then get in touch to learn how our software can help.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Incident Management, Safety Management

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