Essential workers around the world are risking COVID-19 infection on a daily basis to ensure emergency services are available, waste is collected, public transport still operates and supermarkets remain open. In the midst of a health crisis, a change in the public’s behaviour when interacting with workers can increase the level of risk to those on the frontline.
With reports of interference, aggression and even violence against essential workers increasing and the all too real risk of contamination through human contact ever-present, employers have a duty of care for their employees, ensuring the safety of those key workers who are keeping communities functioning.
A body-worn camera is a small, unobtrusive device specifically designed for commercial businesses and has proven to deter public aggression towards workers while capturing evidential footage when necessary. In addition to recording interactions, the cameras provide an added sense of security to those wearing them, knowing that help is at hand with the push of a button.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, verbal and physical abuse, including deliberate coughing and spitting on frontline workers, has been documented within stores from Missouri and Massachusetts to the United Kingdom. Many leading fast casual dining chains have issued body-worn cameras to staff assigned to enforcing social distancing rules in the store.
During such incidents, the employee can verbally notify the aggressor of the fact they are wearing a body-worn camera, often de-escalating the situation right away. However, in cases where the abuse continues, the body-worn camera is activated by the employee simply with a one-push press on the device.
This initiates recording and when used in combination with the employer’s fixed video security system, can prompt an alarm and live video stream to the control room, alerting security staff to the incident and allowing immediate assessment of the situation. The benefit of this integration is that body-worn footage is available alongside CCTV, giving an overall view of the incident as it unfolds, including the perspective of the staff member involved.
Should the need arise, the body-worn camera footage can be shared with law enforcement officials to aid investigation and potentially prosecution. Often, this minimises the amount of time required to convict an offender and reduces the emotional impact on the victim by alleviating the need to appear in court.
The installation of a body-worn camera system is cost-effective and simple. It can be suited to any company’s IT infrastructure, networking and staff shift patterns. And the cameras are intuitive to use, requiring minimal operational training for employees. Additionally, with heightened awareness of contamination, a minimal-touch camera allocation capability can help ensure staff will only come into contact with their own body-worn camera and nothing else in the camera allocation system; reducing risk and disruption.
During times of uncertainty, protecting essential workers and providing them with the tools to do their job safely and without fear is crucial. By leveraging body-worn camera technology, organisations can ensure their employees are equipped to protect themselves and the public.
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