Why do “man down” alarms frustrate so many people?

(Many to the point where they just have it disabled)

The fact that you can automatically summon help if you’re unconscious on the floor would have been described as miraculous not so many years ago. The technology that allows this is commonplace today in lone worker devices. Unfortunately it is also problematic. Devices can false alarm with annoying frequency. You can be sitting having an afternoon coffee when suddenly – beep, beep, beep, beep. Or you kneel down to pick up something that rolled under the table and off it goes again.

The ergonomics are not always friendly. And sad to say, the fault usually lies in the product, not the user. After all ‘ergonomic’ means designed for the user. The manufacturer assures us the feature is there to help. 

There are several ways ManDown can be determined in a duress device; tilt is perhaps the most common.

TILT; when the device tilts past a defined angle for a specified period of time the assumption is you are down. 

NO MOTION; when the device does not move for a specified period of time

SUDDEN DROP or IMPACT; a sensor can detect a drop or fall.

Each of these is valid trigger. The challenge is that while people wearing the devices are all different, and doing different things, the Man Down functions are in most cases universal. One size fits all. The problem is, it doesn’t.

Here are the questions to ask when you’re looking at a device with man down.

  1. What is the ManDown trigger used and is it appropriate for how I intend to use the product
  2. If what they offer is not appropriate are there another triggers available and is one more suitable
    • Tilt?
    • No motion?
    • Sudden drop or impact?
  3. Are the various settings adjustable?
    • Can I change the angle of tilt?
    • Can I change the length of time it records tilt?
    • If the trigger is “no motion”, can I change the monitoring time?
    • If trigger is sudden drop, or impact, can I change the sensitivity?
  4. Can I combine two triggers?
  5. Can I temporarily disable the ManDown function when I need to lie down, sit still for while?
  6. Is there a pre-alarm period that allows me time to cancel the alarm?
  7. Is the length of time the pre-alarm warning sounds, adjustable?
  8. Can I change to volume of the pre-alarm or the vibration level?


Do your homework. Don’t be caught with a device that controls you and annoys you to the point where you get rid of the ManDown feature and lose the lifesaving benefits it can offer.