Introducing a buddy system at work can yield numerous advantages for both employers and employees. From ensuring safety in numbers to fostering shared responsibility, the buddy system, a concept derived from the army and defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “A cooperative arrangement whereby individuals are teamed up and assume responsibility for one another’s welfare.”
The buddy has proven its worth over decades. However, is it the most efficient and effective way to ensure employee safety?
The buddy system works by pairing employees together, providing mutual support and safety. This partnership can prove valuable, particularly during high-risk tasks or shifts, such as couriers navigating hazardous routes or night shifts for gas station attendants.
The buddy system relies on the premise that there is strength in numbers. When working in pairs, buddies are expected to:
From police to pilots, shop-floor attendants, and night drivers, the buddy system finds application in a wide range of professions. Industries like healthcare, transportation, and construction consistently implement this safety measure due to its proven track record in enhancing workplace safety.
Working alone inherently carries higher health and safety risks. Lone workers are susceptible to various potential hazards, from violence and abuse to accidents and sudden health emergencies. The buddy system effectively mitigates these risks in several ways:
✔ Immediate Access to Support: Buddies can provide supervision and immediate access to assistance, offering peace of mind and ensuring a safe workday.
✔ Shared Responsibilities: By sharing tasks and responsibility for each other’s safety, buddies gain confidence and a heightened sense of security. Effective communication and collaborative decision-making further contribute to a safer work environment.
✔ Collective Security: Employees working with others are less likely to face certain high-risk hazards, like violence from interactions with the public. The presence of a buddy may be able to discourage potential perpetrators.
While the buddy system is undoubtedly a safer alternative to working alone, it should not be viewed as a universal solution to workplace safety:
✘ Misplaced Assurance: Over-reliance on the buddy system can lead to a false sense of safety, potentially leading to lapses in precautionary safety measures.
✘ Facing an Emergency Together: Both buddies may face an emergency situation together which have left them in a vulnerable position if no backup is available. This highlights the need for additional safety measures, like a lone worker safety solution.
✘ Elevated Costs: Implementing a buddy system can be more costly for organisations compared to protecting lone workers with a dedicated solution.
✘ Increased Stress: The responsibility for a teammate’s safety can potentially lead to added stress for employees. Organisations may be required to provide training on stress management and emergency preparedness.
Effective alternatives to a buddy system are digital safety solutions that utilise technologies like lone worker smartphone applications and specialised devices. These systems streamline lone worker safety, offering an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional buddy systems.
In numerous job roles, the progression of user-friendly and budget-friendly lone worker solutions has rendered the traditional buddy system outdated.
Lone worker smartphone apps can assist with connectivity between employees and their managers, providing added safety through features including:
In conclusion, while the buddy system is a valuable safety measure, it should be part of a broader safety strategy, complemented by advanced solutions like WorkSafe Guardian’s lone worker safety system. By adopting a multi-faceted approach, organisations can ensure the well-being of their employees in diverse work environments.
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