What’s new for Lone Worker Protection systems

Lone Worker Protection

A look at the evolutions of Lone Worker Protection systems and the impact of indoor localization.




Statistics on accidents in the workplace regularly remind us that ensuring the safety of workers is a major challenge for organizations in all sectors. While personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to evolve (helmets, goggles, hearing protection, safety footwear, anti-fall equipment, etc.), we are also witnessing an increase in the use of Lone Worker Protection systems (LWPs), not just for people working alone (out of sight or hearing), but for all workers in high-risk environments.


Lone Worker Protection systems have become an indispensable tool for workplace safety, particularly in most industrial activities. In this article, we examine the importance of LWP systems, their traditional functionalities and the latest advances, with a particular focus on the integration of indoor localization capabilities.



Understanding Lone Worker Protection systems (LWPs)


LWP systems are comprehensive security solutions designed to monitor and protect employees working in remote, hazardous or potentially risky environments. These systems encompass a variety of hardware, software and communication protocols designed to mitigate potential risks and respond rapidly in the event of an emergency. Here are the main traditional features of LWPs:


Manual and automatic emergency alerts

In the event of an accident, illness or other emergency, lone workers can trigger alerts using dedicated “panic buttons”, and there are also automated detection and alerting mechanisms in case of fall or immobility detection.


Two-way communication

LWPs are either equipped with their own communication capabilities (telephones or PMRs with integrated LWP function) or interfaced with these means of communication. In the age of 4G and now 5G, good network coverage and high bandwidth facilitate seamless interaction between workers and designated monitoring centers or supervisors, enabling rapid assistance when needed, with configurable escalation procedures in the event of non-response.


Real-time monitoring

LWPs use various supervision mechanisms, such as GPS localization in the event of an alert being triggered, NFC badge logs in the event of scheduled rounds, or the detection of abnormal situations (immobility, loss of connection, time slot exceeded, etc.), all with the aim of ensuring the health and safety of workers, while being as unobtrusive as possible.


Logs and traceability

The detailed event logs and reports generated by LWPs help organizations to comply with regulatory requirements, conduct post-incident analysis and continually improve security protocols.



Why companies must equip their workers with Lone Worker Protection systems


In addition to the moral imperative of ensuring the safety and well-being of workers, there are legal obligations that companies must respect in connection with the duty of care. While laws and regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, in most countries employers are legally responsible for managing the safety of their employees, including those working alone or in isolation.


In France, for instance, the Labour Code stipulates that “The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of workers” (L.4121-1). A 2008 decree specifies: “A lone worker must be able to report any situation of distress and be rescued as quickly as possible” (R.4543-19).


Failure to provide adequate protection for workers can have serious legal consequences, including potential civil and criminal liability in the event of accidents. By equipping their workers with Lone Worker Protection systems, organizations demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling their legal obligations, complying with regulatory requirements and reducing risks, thereby protecting both their employees and their own liability as well as that of the top management.



The Evolution of Lone Worker Protection systems


Over the years, Lone Worker Protection systems have evolved to keep pace with changing working environments and the digitization of businesses. Notable advances include:


Miniaturization and integration of technology in various form factors

Some LWP devices take the form of smartwatches, communicating badges, smartphone apps, or merge into vests or other multi-functional PPE, offering increased mobility and convenience to wearers.


Improved data analysis

Advanced data analysis algorithms enable LWPs to process sensor data in real time, facilitating predictive analysis, anomaly detection and proactive risk management.


SaaS platforms

Cloud-based management platforms offer scalability, flexibility and accessibility, enabling companies to centralize or even pool worker safety monitoring, facilitate IT administration and ensure integration with other components of the company’s information system.


Integration with IoT and AI

Integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can enable LWPs to leverage contextual data, environmental sensors and predictive modeling for more accurate risk assessment and response optimization.



Indoor Positioning: Revolutionizing LWP Capabilities


One of the most significant recent developments in LWP is the integration of indoor localization technology. While GPS chipsets can provide satisfactory localization in open outdoor environments, they are often prone to erratic results in the vicinity of buildings, especially if such buildings are tall or close together. And GPS chipsets are totally unable to reliably locate a worker indoors, where GPS signals are weak or wrong or simply unavailable.


Indoor localization overcomes this limitation, using a range of possible technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), UltraWide band (UWB), RFID or inertial navigation to obtain positioning inside buildings. Accuracy varies according to the technologies used and the way they are implemented.



Benefits of Indoor Positioning for safety at work


Precise location (X,Y)

Location is generally correlated with site maps, providing information such as presence in a particular building, room or space, down to an accuracy of less than one meter in some cases…


Floor and altitude (Z)

Some technologies also provide positioning on the vertical axis, enabling the carrier to be located on a precise floor or at a precise height in the case of complex infrastructures (metal structures, passageways, ladders). This also applies to basements. This information can make all the difference if an alert is triggered on a high-rise structure, for example.


Faster rescue operations

By pinpointing the precise location of workers inside buildings, LWPs equipped with indoor tracking help to speed up the arrival of emergency services to victims. This can be life-changing in case of heart attack, haemorrhage, etc.


Asset and material management

Beyond its usefulness in the event of an incident, indoor location facilitates the efficient management of assets and resources within facilities, by enabling presences to be counted, responders to be guided or mobile equipment to be searched, thus improving operational efficiency and security.


Geofencing and zone-based alerts

Indoor geolocation makes it possible to create virtual boundaries or “geofences” inside buildings, for example to monitor a zone that is temporarily off-limits, or to restrict access to a particular category of duly authorized personnel. This enables supervision systems to generate alerts or notifications when workers enter or leave specific areas, improving situational awareness and safety.



Challenges in Deploying Infrastructure for Indoor Positioning


Deploying an indoor location infrastructure presents particular challenges. Unlike GPS, which relies on satellite signals readily available in open spaces, indoor location technologies generally require the installation of dedicated infrastructure inside buildings. This process involves meticulous planning, site surveys and the deployment of beacons, anchors or other hardware components to guarantee optimum coverage and accuracy. Beacons and anchors need to be powered, maintained and, in some cases, connected to a network.


In addition, factors such as building layout, materials, interference from electronic devices and signal attenuation can have a significant impact on the performance of some indoor location technologies. To meet these challenges, it is sometimes necessary to call on signal processing skills as well as deploy complementary wireless communication means.


In this respect, the indoor/outdoor localization of LWP devices can usefully rely on private 4G or 5G networks, whose control by the site manager ensures exhaustive coverage (indoor and outdoor), maximum availability and, in the case of 5G, a high level of cybersecurity and data confidentiality.



Navigating Privacy Concerns: Workers’ Apprehensions towards Tracking Capabilities of LWPs


Despite the undeniable safety benefits of geolocated Lone Worker Protection (LWP) systems, some workers may have concerns about the tracking capabilities inherent in these systems. The fear of surveillance and invasion of privacy is understandable, as employees may perceive the technical capacity for constant monitoring in the workplace as an encroachment on their personal autonomy and freedom. This perspective may give rise to feelings of mistrust and apprehension, which will generally be expressed through the voice of employee representatives, but may also be voiced by employees solicited to participate to the first trials.


To address these concerns, employers need to communicate as transparently as possible that the primary purpose of geolocated LWP devices is to ensure workers’ safety, rather than to monitor their performance or behavior. A clear “doctrine of use” must be established which includes the strict limitation of access to location data by authorized personnel, the confidential nature of such data, the intended use cases (e.g.:cases of an alert being triggered, evacuation orders, crisis exercise, etc.), and the legal limitations on retention periods.


This will greatly help to alleviate employee apprehension and reinforce confidence in the organization’s commitment to their safety, while respecting their individual right to privacy.





As companies increasingly prioritize the safety and health of their workers, the evolution of lone worker protection systems remains crucial. The integration of indoor localization technology represents a major step forward, extending the capabilities of lone worker protection systems to effectively meet the challenges of supervising and protecting people in indoor environments.


However, deploying an indoor location infrastructure poses particular challenges, requiring both planning and expertise in telecom and IT networks. In addition, it is essential to recognize and address workers’ legitimate concerns about privacy and surveillance. Transparent communication, clear policies and a focus on enhancing their security can help to alleviate these apprehensions and build confidence within the workforce, as well as full-scale tests that will enable everyone to see how much time is saved in getting rescued and evacuated in the event of an accident.


By adopting these innovations while meeting technical deployment challenges and respecting individual rights to privacy, companies can ensure ever-increasing protection for all their workers (not only “lone” workers), and foster a culture of safety, trust and resilience in the workplace.


More information on SYSNAV’s Lone Worker Protection system with indoor positioning