Panic alarm decommissioning

In a recent review conducted by Protective Services (UAPS), Facilities & Operations (F&O) and Environment, Health & Safety (EHS), reviewers concluded that panic alarm systems are not in keeping with current safety practices, nor are they demonstrably effective in summoning timely help. 

As of June 2019, all panic alarm systems at the U of A have been decommissioned. 


There are more effective controls to manage personal security, including:

Engineering controls

  • F&O has agreed to assist in the reconfiguration of spaces to facilitate the exit of staff at risk and to restrict the movement of potentially violent persons. This is the preferred control.
  • EHS and F&O have identified wireless local alarm systems that notify nearby co-workers of a concern.

Administrative controls

  • UAPS has arranged a provider for de-escalation training for staff. De-escalation tactics are appropriate controls for workers who may meet one-on-one with at-risk persons.
  • EHS has a working alone tool developed for staff who are meeting one-on-one with persons who have shown at-risk behaviour. The use of a working alone procedure is required, by law, for any worker working alone, and is a valuable control in such situations.

Elimination & substitution controls

  • In rare circumstances, the risk of a particular activity may require advance notice to responders or the presence of police to deal with an individual in crisis. EHS & UAPS will assist with creating plans and protocols for these situations.

UAPS and EHS will work with departments to assist in a successful transition away from panic alarms. They will assist each alarm client in a hazard assessment to determine appropriate and effective controls, based on:

  • the nature of the work
  • history of incidents
  • any current hazard assessment, and
  • any challenges in calling for assistance