Mobile Communication Devices Policy
MOBILE COMMUNICATION DEVICES POLICY
INCLUDING WALKIE TALKIES & MOBILE PHONES
The following documents have been consulted as part of this policy development:
- Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education Settings
- Lancashire County Council Occupational Health & Safety Management System ‘Safe Use of Mobile Phones’
- Safer Practice With Technology – Kent Safeguarding Childrens Board
Walkie-talkie units are used routinely throughout the school day as part of our schools’ safeguarding measures. The units are primarily used to support staff on duty at breaktimes and lunchtimes. However, they are also used in the event of emergencies such as fire, violent or aggressive incidents, urgent medical care etc.
Using the units
All staff receive training on using the handsets and information which can be given over the airwaves. This training is completed as part of the induction process. All staff are reminded that:
- NO CONVERSATION IS PRIVATE
- Only initials of staff and children are to be used. Full names are never to be used or any other ‘personally identifiable information’ such as addresses , phone numbers etc.
- The units are for brief communication which may be backed up by telephone calls and face to face communication
- The units are only to be used for professional use within the school
- All staff must press the ♪ key and wait for a few seconds prior to sending a message
Locations & Maintenance of the units
There are 14 walkie-talkie units in school. The charging units are located :
In the main office , staffroom, learning mentors room and site supervisors room.
The units will be tested once a week, by the Site Supervisor.
The main user of the unit should be responsible for charging the walkie talkie.
Batteries should last all day and unit should be charged overnight.
The units should not be taken off school grounds.
Emergency Duty List
At least two members of staff need to be ‘on call’ to support on-duty staff. This would normally include one member of Senior Management team.
Staff at St Nicholas will:
- ensure that their mobile phones are either switched to silent or off during lesson time.
- not be making or taking personal calls in the vicinity of children at any time.
- Staff should not be using applications on their phone in the vicinity of children.
- Any school related calls made or taken on a private mobile device should be, where possible, done in appropriate areas away from children (i.e. the office or staff room)
- It is understood that personal mobile devices are used as a means of communication with school when out on school trips or taking groups of children to participate in off-site activities. In such circumstances it is recognized that the over-riding safety concern is to remain with the group the staff member is responsible for, rather than take or make calls in private.
- not give their personal contact details to children or young people, including their mobile telephone number
- only use equipment e.g. school mobile phone, or landline to communicate with parents or agencies. Staff are not permitted to call parents from their own mobile phone unless the call can be reasonably justified (i.e. emergency situations where no other method of communication is readily available
- Not take ANY images of school children on their mobile phone. In some circumstances an adult may justify why they do have an image on their phone, such as ‘my child was a guest at their party’. However, staff should expect to be challenged if they do possess photographs of school children on their phone.
• It is accepted that for year 6 children it can be necessary to have a mobile phone to contact parent/carers on the way to, or from, school. Year 6 pupils are allowed to bring mobile phones to school so long as they are handed into the office prior to the start of lessons and are collected at the end of the day. Failure to comply with these rules will mean that individual pupils will no-longer have the right to bring a mobile phone to school.
• Bringing mobile phones is prohibited in all other year groups unless specific request from a parent has been granted.
• The phone must be clearly labelled with the child’s name, switched off and given in to the office on arrival at school.
• The phone must be collected at the end of the school day from the office
• The phone must be concealed whilst leaving the school premises.
• If a child is found taking photographs or video footage with a mobile phone of either pupils or teachers, this will be regarded as a serious offence and the Headteacher will decide on appropriate disciplinary action. In certain circumstances, the pupil may be referred to the Police. If images of other pupils or teachers have been taken, the phone will not be returned to the child until the images have been removed by an appropriate person.
• Parents are advised that St Nicholas School accept no liability for the loss or damage to mobile phones which are brought into the school
Lancashire County Council
Occupational Health and Safety Management System
Corporate H&S Guidance
|Safe Use of Mobile Phones|
This document sets out the County Council’s guidance and arrangements for the safe use of mobile phones.
What does this guidance cover?
- Risk assessment of mobile phone use
- Driving & mobile phone use
- Use of Hands free kit
- Use of radios
- Safe use of mobile phones at work in circumstances other than driving
- Stress and mobile phones
- Health Issues associated with mobile phones
- Personal Safety and mobile phones
- General health & safety advice for mobile phone users
- Legislation, References and related links
Risk assessment of mobile phone use
Where a mobile phone is being considered to enable a particular job to be carried out effectively, or for safety, security or other reasons, a risk assessment must be (or have already been) carried out as required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999.
Mobile phones and ancillary devices must be considered as work equipment within the meaning of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 and therefore have to be suitable for their intended use. When issuing a mobile phone for business use, managers must provide the user with:
- adequate health and safety information,
- appropriate instructions
- training pertaining to their safe use.
If a mobile phone is considered to be appropriate, it would be useful if the equipment incorporated short call dialling, any key answer and call divert features. Some mobile phones currently in service may not have message or voicemail facilities. If equipment currently in use does not have a voicemail facility, it may be appropriate to consider providing one which does.
Unless there is good reason not to, all LCC mobile phones and accessories should be acquired via the corporate mobile phone contract. Advice can be obtained from ICT Services, Resources Directorate (Customer Service Desk 01772 532626).
Driving and mobile phone use
Using a hand held mobile phone while driving is illegal. This applies to use by a driver, of all hand held mobile phones (including phones with headpieces / microphone if they need to be held in the hand to operate, or car kits where the phone has to be held to the driver’s ear) unless the vehicle is parked safely, according to traffic regulations, with the engine switched off.
As the employer could also be prosecuted if employees use hand held phones in the course of their employment whilst driving, managers must make it clear to employees that they must not use hand held mobile phones for any reason whilst driving on County Council business.
If drivers are known to use hand held mobile phones whilst driving, this will be treated as a disciplinary matter and appropriate action taken. There are no exemptions for short-term use (e.g. answering to say “I’m driving, I’ll pull over”).
Use of Hands free kit
The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended 2003) state that a driver must have proper control of their vehicle at all times.
Where a “hands free” phone is fitted in a vehicle, it can be used whilst driving but only with care and when safe to do so. The County Council will accept no liability in respect of any employee prosecuted for actions arising from inconsiderate, careless or driving in a dangerous manner while using a "hands free" phone.
The Federation of Communication Services recommend that hands free phones should always be installed in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and to the BSI “Guide to in vehicle information systems” DD235: 1996. In addition they suggest that to guarantee installation by a qualified installer, purchasers/providers should look for those working to the Government Installation Code of Practice, MPT 1362, or Radio Quality Assurance Scheme (RQAS).
Further information on the use of mobile phones and driving can be found in the DfT leaflet “Drive Safely – Think” campaign leaflet ref. T/NF/451.
Use of Radios
Two way radio microphones, which are fitted to some County Council vehicles, should not be used whilst driving if they are hand held. However, where they can be used "hands free" their use is permitted whilst driving in the same way as "hands free" mobile phones. The same general rules apply, however, i.e. they should be used with care and only when safe to do so and the County Council will accept no liability in respect of any employee prosecuted for actions arising from inconsiderate, careless or driving in a dangerous manner while using a two way radio.
Safe use of mobile phones at work in circumstances other than driving
The County Council has an obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees at work.
The nature of business or personal mobile phones is that incoming calls come without warning and so the danger of distraction from a task that requires great concentration is self-evident. Distractions are also caused when someone is talking on their mobile phone and is totally absorbed in conversation. In these circumstances they may be unaware of what is going on around them. This is particularly a problem in environments where there is moving machinery or other hazardous activities taking place.
LCC employees involved in activities that require a high level of concentration must switch off their mobile phones before beginning the task. Examples of such activities are:
- operating machinery / equipment
- lifting or moving materials or people
- working with electricity
- working at heights from ladders or other temporary platforms
- any other hazardous activity not included above
Any employees observed to be using their mobile phones (whether provided for business use or personal phones) in these circumstances will render themselves liable for disciplinary action.
Stress and mobile phones
For some people, having to carry a mobile phone may increase levels of stress by creating a feeling that they are always in contact with the office and feel that they are on call 24 hours a day.
Employees issued with a mobile phone should be encouraged to switch them off when not required, or to voice mail/message facility to ensure that they have adequate breaks.
Health Issues associated with mobile phones
Alleged health risks associated with mobile phones relate to their prolonged use over time. In 2004 the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) issued a statement, which indicated that handsets used in the UK complied with current exposure guidelines.The NRPB's reposonsibilities now rest with the Health Protection Agency and their website indicates that there is no reason to change the guidance in this document which has been in place since 2005.
The manufacturer and supplier’s guidance documentation must also be consulted for specific information on use.
Protracted use of a hand held mobile involving frequent lengthy calls should be discouraged and alternative methods of remaining in contact considered wherever possible.
Anyone suffering from headaches or other problems thought to be associated with the use of a mobile phone at work should be advised to seek advice from their GP in the first instance. If symptoms persist, further advice should be sought from the Occupational Health Unit and the situation reassessed.
Personal Safety and mobile phones
Where a risk assessment shows potential risk to personal safety for employees that could be reduced through access to a mobile phone, managers should consider their use.
Advice limiting the use of mobile phones should not be used as an excuse for not providing mobile phones where the risk assessment shows that they can improve security and/or reduce risks of violence to staff.
The general risk assessment covering the mobile phone activity should be available for consultation and discussion with the employee(s) concerned.
General health & safety advice for mobile phone users
Advice for users of mobile phones is set out in the Advice sheet attached at Appendix 1 to this guidance. This can be issued by managers to users of mobile phones.
Legislation, references and related links
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1986 (as amended 2003)
- Government Installation COP, MPT 1362, or Radio Quality Assurance Scheme (RQAS).
- BSI “Guide to in vehicle information systems” DD235: 1996
- Department of Transport leaflet “Dying to take the call?"
- DofT leaflet “Drive Safely – Think” campaign leaflet ref. T/NF/451.
GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ADVICE FOR ALL MOBILE PHONE USERS
The following advice will help a mobile phone user to reduce any potential health and safety risks to a minimum.
- If it is known that a conversation will be of a long duration, consider whether or not the call can be made using a conventional landline.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the safe use of the mobile phone and any ancillary equipment, if issued.
- Never use a mobile phone where flammable liquids/gases are stored or used. This applies equally to vehicles carrying such substances.
- Avoid using mobile phones in confined spaces as an enclosed environment causes the equipment to transmit at a higher power level.
Mobile phones are low power devices that transmit and receive microwave radiation to and from fixed base stations; the focal point for such emissions being the aerial. This guidance therefore represents a precautionary approach.
Where it is essential that a call must be made using a mobile phone then:
- Keep talk time to a minimum;
- If hearing permits, keep the phone away from direct contact with the head: even a few centimetres can reduce exposure levels, and/or swap the phone from one ear to the other;
- If the aerial is extendable then ensure it is used in the fully extended position;
Anyone suffering from headaches or other problems thought to be associated with the use of mobile phones at work should, in the first instance, seek advice from their G.P. Should symptoms persist, this should be reported to the line manager so that the situation can be assessed further and advice sought from the Occupational Health Unit.
It may be that some people feel that carrying a mobile phone adversely increases levels of stress by making them feel that they are losing control over their time and their working lives.
Where possible use a landline or arrange for messages to be taken by colleagues. If taking a break, consider switching the mobile off, or to voice mail or message facility.
Using a hand held mobile phone while driving is illegal. This will apply to use by a driver of all hand held mobile phones (including phones with headpieces / microphone if they need to be held in the hand to operate, or car kits where the phone has to be held to the drivers ear) unless the vehicle is parked safely with the engine switched off.
- You must not use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving in the course of your employment whether it is a personal phone or provided for business use. There are no exemptions for short-term use (e.g. answering to say “I’m driving I’ll pull over”).
- Any breach of this rule may lead to disciplinary action being taken;
If there is a hands free kit in a vehicle, this should only be used with caution and when it is safe to do so.
Note: If whilst using a hands free phone, it causes a driver to drive in an inconsiderate, careless or dangerous manner a prosecution could still ensue. Penalties include an unlimited fine, disqualification and up to two years imprisonment.
The County Council will accept no liability in respect of any employee prosecuted for actions arising from the above offences.
If you are driving with a colleague, ask them to make or receive calls for you.
Consider whether or not it is essential that mobile phone numbers be given to anyone else;
Ensure that the mobile phone is removed from a vehicle when it is unoccupied.
As a courtesy to others, mobile phones should not be left switched on during meetings etc., (or if they must, for example if expecting an urgent call, then this should only be done with the agreement of others present).
7. RELATED LINK
Department of Transport leaflet “Dying to take the call?"