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Personal safety devices can help protect lone workers

Employees in New York who often work alone may lack the layer of protection extended by the vigilance of co-workers. With no one to watch out for them or call for emergency aid in the event of a severe injury, lone workers often face an extra level of risk.

Lone work can occur both on an employer's premises or outside the employer's area, such as when a technician must make a service call. Emergency repairs conducted after hours also increase the chance that the worker will enter an unoccupied work site. Guidelines from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration present employers with general regulations about lone workers. While these guidelines include having supervisors check on lone workers at "regular intervals," the requirements may not be strict enough for all companies.

Proactive companies, such as Flowserve Corp. and Spear Management Group Inc., have invested in personal safety devices for workers in solitary situations. These GPS-enabled devices allow a supervisor to monitor a lone worker's position remotely. Additionally, a worker can signal for help through the devices. The corporate safety director at Flowserve said the personal safety devices cost about $1,600 to $3,000 per worker, but they insure against costlier accidents.

Even with the diligent use of precautions, a workplace injury could still occur. In that event, the injured worker has the right to collect workers' compensation benefits. The application process can be confusing, however, and the empoyee may not be aware of what benefits are available. A lawyer could inform the injured worker about how to document an accident and receive compensation for medical bills and lost income.

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