Engineering firm Downer is using an app with location-based services to improve the safety of lone workers at water infrastructure sites.

The company said its utilities business unit is trialling the new mobile app “to support workers required to work alone.”

“It uses new technology that allows us to monitor our workers in real time and provide them with a 24/7 ability to send an alert for medical attention if required,” Downer said.

Under the trial, water utility maintenance crew are required to activate the app “when they are the only person on site, or where they are working in an isolated work area for an hour or more.”

“Workers respond every 20 minutes to a monitoring welfare check alarm,” the firm said.

“If the worker fails to respond the application is supported by an escalation process involving calls to the worker.

“If the worker fails to answer the call, physical attendance at the worker’s location takes place,” Downer said, noting the app was capable of communicating GPS coordinates to centrally-based monitoring and dispatch teams.

In addition, if the person has a medical event requiring attention while onsite, they can initiate a medical alarm by either shaking the phone or pressing an alarm button.

Downer said that while some workers were “initially hesitant” to use the app, they had since “embraced it and provided positive feedback” on the trial.