The main purpose of a check-in system is to verify the well-being of employees. It's a quick process in which the employer communicates with the driver or their passenger to verify their location, and that the trip is going as planned.
Check-ins are a best practice to apply whenever one or more of your employees are travelling in a vehicle. Moreover, Part 4.21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation describes requirements for employers to implement procedures for checking the well-being of any worker assigned to work alone or in isolation. That includes whenever they are driving alone.
The check-in contact is the person with whom the travelling employee communicates. In some organizations, a supervisor, co-worker or admin assistant regularly acts as the check-in contact. There are several third-party check-in service providers available to organize and implement check-ins. Although these services come at a cost, their experienced staff can often do a better job of managing the process, and they release managers and supervisors of having to worry about being available for check-in calls. Search the web using "worker monitoring" or "journey management" or check the Yellow Pages under "answering services".
An essential criteria to consider when designating a check-in contact is that they must remember when to expect check-in calls (a reminder alarm on a phone or computer is helpful), they must be available to receive check-ins (near their phone) for the duration of the trip and they know what to do if the traveller does not contact them as planned. Check-in contacts must have a copy of the trip plan.
Tip: Rather than tempting a driver to use their phone while driving, set up check-ins so that the onus is on the driver to initiate the check-in call at, or very near, the scheduled check-in time. That way, the driver can locate a good place to pull over and make the call.
How often the employer verifies the well-being of travelling employees should hinge on the level of risk - the greater the risk, the more frequent the check-in calls. A common default interval is every two hours. Below are a few scenarios of how employers have adjusted check-in frequency to recognize riskier driving circumstances.
Chris works as a registered nurse providing mobile patient care.Today she will be transporting a client to the hospital. This client has a history of sometimes becoming agitated and aggressive. The drive should take about 75 minutes. Chris and her supervisor agree that Chris will check-in when she arrives at the client's house (should be about 9:30), just before they start the drive (about 9:45), every half-hour during the drive (while Chris is pulled over) and when she and the patient arrive at the hospital (about 11:00).
Tan regularly drives between northern BC communities selling heavy equipment products.Normally, Tan checks-in every two hours. In winter, because of risky driving conditions, he checks-in every hour. However, there are a few places where Tan knows the cell coverage is unreliable or non-existent. Tan arranges with their service provider that he will contact them just before he leaves the reliable cell service area (call by 7:00) and then check-in when he is back in range (expect call by 8:45). Tan and his manager have also agreed to purchase a satellite phone to avoid this gap in the future.
Chandar is a municipal employee responsible for maintaining trees and plants along city streets.The service truck he drives is bulky and difficult to park, so to avoid conflicts with busy traffic during the day Chandar works during the evening and night. Some of the streets Chandar works along go through risky neighbourhoods. After discussing with his manager, they agreed that while he is driving / working in those known risky locations, Chandar will check-in every half-hour.
Tip: For employees driving alone (i.e. working alone as per definition in OHSR 4.20.1), employers are required to conduct an end of shift check. Make sure your trip plans include a check to verify the worker has safely completed their shift or reached their destination, or is no longer working alone.
Check-ins can be completed using a variety of means - using landlines, cell phones or satellite phones, emails, text messages or two-way radios. The crucial factor in making check-ins work is that the chosen means of communication must reliably enable the worker to initiate and receive communications. When you are planning a trip, consider limitations that could create gaps - poor cell service or wifi availability, satellite and repeater dead zones. Accommodate those inconsistencies in the trip plan and check-in process.
Most of the time, check-ins simply verify the traveller is fine and the trip is proceeding as planned. However, in the event that the check-in call doesn't arrive, or that it arrives but it's a passenger saying they have been involved in a crash, the organization must have a procedure in place to initiate action. And, it's essential that check-in contacts and travellers alike know what steps they are to take...and do so. See the Journey Management Policy for an example of such measures.