Helmet cameras are becoming increasingly common, worn by construction workers and highways work teams exposed to threats, abuse and risks, alongside safety helmet cams for motorbike riders and cyclists – but are they legal?.
These cameras have various functions, such as auto-recording, rolling storage capacity, cloud-based video uploads, and even auto-redacting, where footage is transmitted to a control centre and identifying vehicle registration plates and faces are blocked to protect privacy.
Whatever the environment, the footage captured by a helmet camera can be beneficial in multiple scenarios. Still, care should be taken to ensure videos are used responsibly and private information about third parties is not stored or shared without a justifiable reason.
Why do workers wear Helmet Cameras?
The primary reason a worker or individual may wish to wear a helmet camera is to ensure they have a factual, independent record of events.
Police forces are a good example. Officers working alone could be at heightened risk of false allegations, aggression, or violence but can activate cameras to ensure there is a live video recording.
Likewise, professionals and work teams use helmet cameras to:
- Fulfil site health and safety requirements, such as allowing inspectors to review work and clarify that the correct procedures are being followed.
- Reduce possible liability by evidencing actions taken, procedures followed and showing that the correct safety precautions are in place.
- Prevent conflicts from escalating and deterring potential intruders, trespassers, or lawbreakers. For example, roadwork teams wearing helmet cams with clear signage may experience less abuse from drivers waiting in long queues or being inconvenienced by lane closures.
The legalities of helmet cameras depend on where they are being used and why. As a general rule, public filming is permitted anywhere; anybody can take photos or videos in a public place.
However, in a workplace setting, private environment or commercial facility, businesses need to consider how they comply with data protection legislation, much as they would when installing CCTV cameras.
Legal Requirements for Helmet Cameras
The first requirement for anybody wearing a helmet camera, where the helmet or hard hat is an item of PPE, is to ensure the equipment is mounted on a compatible bracket.
Whether a protective item of headgear used in construction or a safety helmet worn when cycling, you cannot drill holes or otherwise damage the helmet to affix a camera – this would render the shell insufficient to protect you in the event of an accident and pose a health and safety risk.
As with any item of PPE, in a workplace environment, it is the employer’s or manager’s duty to provide appropriate brackets along with the helmet cameras themselves (see more about PPE compliance).
The best practice for filming for security purposes or helmet cameras worn by public-facing workers is to:
- Erect signage or provide other communications informing site visitors and colleagues that filming is in progress.
- Publish a comprehensive policy to dictate when filming is used, for what purpose, and of which events – filming general duties is not commonly permitted.
- Implement secure storage protocols to ensure only authorised individuals have access to footage and can ensure it is deleted, archived, or utilised responsibly.
Filming via a helmet camera when travelling does not require any specific notice, similar to a dash cam, but otherwise, in most scenarios, a simple sign stating ‘helmet cameras in use’ or ‘body-worn cameras in operation’ will suffice.
Sharing Footage Captured via Helmet Camera
Video captures must have a defined purpose and cannot be stored indefinitely. If they are used for training and monitoring purposes, appropriate controls should be in place to determine who has access. In most cases, identifying features will be redacted for privacy.
However, videos can act as evidence and be used in liability claims, health and safety investigations, or shared with the police to trace and prosecute lawbreakers.
Footage should not be retained for longer than necessary, which may be determined by the purpose. For example, if helmet cameras are used to record incidents, and none occur, the footage might be wiped at the end of the working day.
The guidelines state that footage should not be kept for longer than 30 days unless it serves a purpose – such as assisting with an investigation or prosecution.
Security is also important, as camera footage must be stored somewhere secure. Unsecured storage devices or standalone memory cards pose a security risk if lost, stolen or damaged, which could mean footage being available to unauthorised viewers.
Individuals can also make subject access requests to see any footage they are in – they need to make a request within 31 days but may not be permitted access if the video features other people.
Choosing the Right Helmet Cameras
The features and functionality of your helmet cameras will impact the usability of the footage captured, particularly when working in higher-risk environments or adjacent to roadways where traffic is moving at high speeds. A standard 720p camera is suited to general use but is unlikely to provide high quality, crisp footage of an acceptable standard in such situations.
Helmet camera mounts are also important because the type of bracket will affect the field of vision and what your equipment records. If the camera is to one side or the other, the view in front of the wearer will be obstructed. Likewise, if the camera is too high, it might not pick up relevant details.
Cameras should be checked regularly to ensure the bracket is snug, the bolts are tight, and there is no dust or water over the lens that will reduce the quality of the footage.
Wearable safety devices used to protect workers, improve health and safety, and reduce exposure to risks or personal hazards should be of sufficient quality to operate flawlessly in all weather conditions and comply with PPE regulations.
Consult an Independent Wearable Safety Device Professional
A consultation with an experienced security provider with expertise in body-worn camera technology is advisable if you have any concerns about how to use helmet cameras and the best steps to ensure full compliance.
Please get in touch with Clearway at your convenience for further information about our range of high-performance, commercial-grade helmet cameras and other worn surveillance equipment or to request guidance on the right approach.