While there’s no doubt COVID-19 has been the main cause of safety concerns in 2020, it doesn’t mean fleets should forget about other dangers fleet workers face daily. As the days start to get darker earlier, it’s important to keep employees visible. Guardian Angel Elite Series wearable lights are one product that will do just that.
The device is a wearable and mountable personal safety light. It’s lightweight (about three ounces) and about the size of a pager. Guardian Angel produces devices in more than 25 different color combinations to fit the need/specification of any occupation. Most models have a white hands-free flashlight in the front, and additional light to the rear, providing 360-degree visibility. They are USB-C rechargeable and hold an IP68 waterproof rating. While rooted in law enforcement, they have also been widely adopted in industries including fire and EMS, security, construction, and towing and roadside assistance.
Here, a few fleets using the device discuss why they made the purchase and how it has kept their staff safe while serving the public.
Shining Bright in Any Terrain
Len Bunaisky, field supervisor and safety committee liaison for USIC in North East Ohio, says his staff works in heavy-traffic areas and backcountry roads.
“The more visibility we have, the better. Most of the techs in our district have Guardian Angels in their truck now.”
He says the department ran a pilot program looking at durability, battery life, ease of use, and comfort while wearing. During the pilot, they had techs in different areas use the device on different jobs at all times of day, rain and shine.
“We did find we were much more visible. In fact, during the pilot and since we’ve rolled these out, many techs have people asking what they had on their shoulder and where they got it. We even had an Ohio State Police trooper turn around and come back to a tech to inquire about what it was the first time that tech used it,” he explains.
According to Bunaisky, there has been a definite increase in visibility during emergencies at night, and the white floodlight front helps when walking in uneven terrain.
Providing the Right Amount of Illumination
Sergio Mendoza, emergency operations manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, runs a fleet of dedicated emergency vehicles that respond to crashes and other hazards and emergencies on Oregon Highways.
The department was struggling with visibility at night. ANSI Class 3 safety vests and other items were good, but being retroreflective, unless light is shining directly at the clothing, they can’t be seen easily.
“Guardian Angel lights actively show you where the responders are, so there’s no need to search for them. Also, even with shedding some of the lights at an emergency scene, our vehicles’ LEDs can be confusing and overpowering. Walking around with the device on our uniform, the movement gets drivers’ attention as opposed to having to look past emergency lights to look for a shiny vest or pants,” he explains.
ODOT responders wear Guardian Angels, and Mendoza says he’s also given them to employees in low-visibility environments.
People on chain detail, manning closures, and working in foggy winter weather, all have the option to use them as well as maintenance crews doing night work.
He says ODOT responders in Portland first piloted the devices, and, after a short trial, explained the value they provided. His department followed suit, and he spread the word to other crews, not just responders.
Keeping Safe at Any Cost
John Clendenin, RN, RSM, northern region safety officer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, says he first started looking for a safety solution due to low light level visibility of employees outside of their vehicles. Arctic winters with the sun on the horizon for most of the day reduces the visible spectrum of color and object distinction.
Before COVID-19 slowed the implementation of the Guardian Angel pilot program significantly, the plan was to place devices on employees who are frequently outside of vehicles in the right of way (ROW) to increase employee safety and visual awareness to motorists.
While still too early for significant feedback, Clendenin says initial reviews are expected to be beneficial.
“Workers in the ROW continue to be in danger while performing their routine job duties. Anything employers can do to increase employee safety of their critical infrastructure workforce is worth investing time and energy to,” he says.
Versatility is Key
President and CEO of Guardian Angel Devices Chadwick Keller says one of the most prominent aspects of the device is versatility.
“Using the universal magnetic mounting system, the device can attach to nearly any surface, clothing, or piece of equipment. Another important distinction is the devices have multiple light functions, including front strobe, rear strobe, steady burn on both the front and rear, work light, and flashlight,” he says.
A few common questions he receives are as follows:
Which color combination is best for specific occupations?
The answer is it really depends on state/agency/organizational regulations or policies. We offer 25 different color combinations including several different combinations of white, green, red, blue, yellow, orange, and infrared. To help customers determine which color is best, we created a tool on our website where users can search each state’s statutes to determine which color lights are approved for roadside use in each individual state.
Does this replace a reflective vest?
Reflective vests can only be seen from about 250 feet away, and only if light is being directed towards them. The Guardian Angel Device is an active warning, meaning it emits light on its own and does not depend on light directed towards it. The devices are not a replacement but rather an addition to the reflective vest.