Remote Worker Safety

June 14, 2016 4 min read

Remote Worker Safety

As some of you may know, Angus had a pretty bad horse accident about 18 months ago. A rescue helicopter and three major surgeries later, things are looking promising, but he was lucky. 

The accident happened working young horses at his father’s place over the Christmas break. I was in the house, happily watching the cricket with our then 4 month old baby. I heard the working dogs barking and sensed something was not right. Instinct kicked in and I went outside to find Angus’ horse at the yards, but not Angus. I went back to the house, grabbed William and my mobile and started running.  Before long, I could hear Angus. The rest is history, but needless to say, had it not been for his proximity to the house paddock and the fact that we had phone coverage nearby, it would have been a very different story.  

During his recovery, Angus thought a lot about what had happened.  He thought especially about the fact that his father lived on his own and worked alone most days, 40km from town on 8,500 acres and had been doing so for years and years.  There was no one there who was going to run to his aid and he doesn’t carry a phone because there is very limited phone coverage.

Being involved in the aviation industry, Angus was already familiar with ELTs – (Emergency Locator Transmitters) and while in hospital Angus started researching further into emergency response technology to see what was available and suitable for use on the land. It needed to be a device that was small enough that it could be carried on a belt and tough enough to handle the rural working environment. From his research he learned there are 3 main emergency response devices:
 
  • the ELT – (Emergency Locator Transmitter), designed for the aviation industry;
  • the EPIRB – (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), designed for the        nautical industry; and
  • the PLB – (Personal Locator Beacon), designed for bush walking, trekking and other land based uses. 
 
PLBs are small devices that communicate via satellite. Emergency services or assigned contacts can be alerted at the push of the button. It’s simple technology and life-saving. After years of growing up and working on remote sheep and cattle stations and remote mining and drilling camps, it was surprising to Angus that he had never come across these devices before. 
It's sad that in life we often have to face adversity or reality before we do something about it. I find it frustrating for example, as the daughter of a community nurse, that our first corporate purchase order for PLBs came just after the death of remote nurse, Gayle Woodford in Western Australia.  That said, it’s always better late than never.  

Since Angus’ accident, we’ve thought a lot about what we can do to improve remote worker safety and in particular, what we can do to make PLBs more appealing and user friendly to remote workers. We realised that one thing that was missing was a good way to carry the device in any situation, whether it be on a horse, bike, tractor, working in the yards or fencing. The PLBs need a sturdy and user-friendly protective carry case, that is easy to wear and won’t get in the way or be damaged.
rescueME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon & Pouch
rescueME PLB1 - Personal Locator Beacon & Pouch
SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger & PouchSPOT Gen3 - Satellite GPS Messenger & Pouch
So Angus started designing a pouch for these beacons that would be perfectly suited to a rural or agricultural application.  As he said, “There’s no good selling a life saving device to a remote worker, unless it’s tough enough to handle the harshest working environments and they can have it with them always, without even thinking about it.” As a result we now have the Angus Barrett PLB pouches.  They’re compact, but made from a heavy duty, first grade leather that is blocked perfectly to fit 2 different devices. They sit comfortably on your belt, just like a knife pouch, only more secure. The pouches are sewn by hand with a hidden stitch to protect the thread. They are also designed to give the wearer the choices as to whether the pouch sits on the left or right hip and in a horizontal or vertical position. It’s the perfect pouch for a rural or industrial application and is definitely something to think about as a solution for anyone working remotely or by themselves.
PLB Leather Pouches
As well as designing the pouches for the PLBs, we are working hard to promote the use of PLBs in the rural and agricultural industries and we have partnered with AllSat Communications to stock the devices themselves.

As way of giving back, Angus Barrett Saddlery is very proud to be donating $5 from every PLB sold from now until the end of financial year to the Royal Flying Doctors and Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. Both these organisations do such an incredible job looking after us.  Please help us with this cause by sharing this newsletter with anyone that you think may benefit from these devices and pouches or may be interested in finding out more about them. We think that PLBs are something that will be immensely useful to people and no doubt have the potential to save lives in the future. 
 
For more information about the two different devices -

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