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WORKPLACE SAFETY: Calling 911

in News and Features

Can Your Employees Call “911” directly from the company phone?

If not, you are in violation of Kari’s Law!

Multi-line phone systems must allow direct dialing to 911 and automatically notify a designated staff member.

What is Kari’s Law?

It is a federal law that includes two mandates:

  • All phone lines must have direct dialing to 911—removing the need to dial a prefix for an outside line when calling 911. Companies that use multi-line telephone systems (MLTSs) installed or manufactured after Feb. 16 must comply with a new regulation for calls made to emergency services. In addition to standard phones, “soft” phones that make calls over the Internet, are included in this deadline.
  • Designated personnel—such as a designated staff member, a company security team or front desk attendant—must be notified that a 911 call has been placed. These notifications can take the form of a phone call, email, SMS/text message, or a conspicuous on-screen message. The notification will inform the designated member that there’s an emergency and to assist/escort emergency personnel directly to the crisis location.

 

Why Kari’s Law?

When Kari Dunn was attacked and killed by her estranged husband in a hotel room, her 9-year-old daughter attempted to call 911 but her calls never went through because the hotel’s phone system required guests to dial a 9 before placing outside calls.

What are the Consequences of Non-Compliance? 

  • Endangering employees, customers, visitors, and others
  • Fines and additional penalties for each day the business remains non-compliant 
  • Potential civil liabilities if an emergency occurs

 

What is a MLTS phone line?

MLTSs are commonly used in office buildings, hospitals, school campuses, and in hotels.  They usually require people to dial a prefix, such as a 9, before making an external call. Kari’s Law mandates that these phone systems allow direct dialing to 911 and notify designated staff when emergency services have been contacted. This rule will allow all employees and people in hotels, office buildings, and campuses to dial 911 to reach the help that they need in an emergency, and to help aid response times when emergency personnel arrive.

 

What about older phone systems?

While Kari’s Law applies only to MLTSs installed or manufactured after February 16th, 2020, businesses with older multi-line systems need to call the company that maintains the phone system and request a change to direct access.

 

Are phone systems with IP-based enterprise or Cloud-based IP technology included?

YES! Phones that make calls over the Internet are included in this law too. Note that a final rule issued in December 2019 by the FCC stated that it interprets the definition of MLTS “to include the full range of networked communications systems that serve enterprises, including circuit-switched and IP-based enterprise systems, as well as cloud-based IP technology and over-the-top applications.” 

 

Compliance Tips

  • Inform your HR and IT departments about this law and the need to make sure your company phone system is compliant.
  • Make sure the phone systems are updated with the right software—call your phone system provider to demand this compliance and service.
  • Set up your emergency notification system and communicate with all staff about the process.
  • Test the process to make sure it works.

 

Ray Baum’s Act – Deadlines loom for 2021

The late Ray Baum, noted public servant at the state and federal level in Oregon and in Washington D.C., advocated “that all incoming phone calls to 911 call centers communicate a “dispatchable location” automatically receiving a detailed location so that 911 personnel can quickly dispatch first responders to the correct location.” According to the FCC, a “dispatchable location” is defined as “the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the direct location of the calling party.” 

 

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COMPLIANCE DEADLINE

  • Fixed Multi-line Telephone Systems (MLTS)
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January 6, 2021

  • Non-fixed Multi-line Telephone Systems (MLTS)
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  • Non-fixed Telephone Relay Services (TRS)

January 6, 2022

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