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Field service technology aims to improve safety

Oct. 7, 2022
Industrial workers and field technicians face mounting challenges and hazards daily, though safety and communication concerns can be remediated though implementing field service management solutions.

Specific fields of work lend themselves to greater hazards or risks. In fact, in 2020 alone, there were nearly 5,000 fatal occupational injuries. Workers in transportation, material moving, construction, and extraction verticals accounted for nearly half of the total fatalities. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor recently cited field service work, in general, as one of the deadliest professions.

Where industrial field service is concerned, technicians can be exposed to a range of potential hazards such as electrical equipment, power tools, heavy machinery, ladders, and weather, among other elements. In 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) listed machinery issues, hazard communication, fall protection, and industrial trucks as some of the most frequently cited safety standards.

The daily issues that industrial field service workers face, including poorly maintained equipment and gaps in communication and compliance, can slow productivity and decrease customer satisfaction, leading to damaged reputation and revenue. Unfortunately for field technicians, along with inherent at-work risks, they typically face tight deadlines and highly specialized customer requests. With often less-than-ideal working conditions, it’s not surprising that many industrial field service workers are leaving their careers, retiring early, or simply choosing not to enter the field because of the risks and hurdles that come with the job.

Reconnecting

Organizations can help reduce the many safety risks and challenges they face daily by implementing field service management (FSM) solutions that focus on worker retention, preventing citations, sharing knowledge, attracting new talent, and ensuring the safety of all stakeholders. An end-to-end FSM solution can handle job safety assessments (JSA), ensure compliance, and reconnect the field and office.

Regardless of any circumstance a field tech might face, there is always a continued need for data. With a frequent disconnect between asset management software and field operation solutions, a comprehensive FSM platform allows the free flow of information between the field and office, building long-term success and lowering safety risks for workers in the field. When all parties involved have real-time communication, everyone is aware of safety hazards and can plan accordingly.

Incorporating FSM solutions into daily work

With an already dwindling workforce, field service providers must do everything possible to ensure their employees are safe and compliant. Through an end-to-end FSM solution, managers and dispatchers can be confident these measures are being taken.

For example, when sending a vehicle technician onsite to check on broken equipment, the work order created for the asset through an FSM solution can include the instructions for what needs to be done, including notes and detailed tasks relevant to what has taken place. Step-by-step instructions can include but are not limited to suggesting block-off areas, types of PPE required, how to perform a lockout, and other details related to the situation specifics. These instructions are triggered when a technician enters the details on site, taking them down a specific path to help them identify the risks that pertain to the job, improving safety and communication.

Safety specifics

An FSM data guide can also help employees to expand on an incident if one has taken place. For instance, workers must open the program, which might ask them questions about whether they have alerted their supervisor and if they’ve secured the hazardous area in a way that has been taped off or by way of alerting others that the area might be unsafe.

Different companies have various risks and needs. By implementing an FSM solution, businesses can build a specific type of form to help streamline operations—namely, forms that will create layers of safety. These forms can even pop up offline, and managers can make protocols that prevent employees from doing anything else in the system until they’ve been completed. Then, to take it one step further, a supervisor’s signature can be necessary for the employee to access the system. All of this can be customized and scaled to meet a company’s specific needs.

Aggregating data and reporting

All the information retained through questions in a customizable form is actionable and can be aggregated. If a box is checked for a fall hazard at a specific job, an FSM solution can automatically email a list of people and create records within the system. Suppose a company wants to know how many hazards they had for a specific period at a facility or how many safety forms were filled out. In that case, they can aggregate that data and produce reports with that information.

In addition to how an FSM platform can identify and avoid hazards, along with ensuring the proper protocols are followed should an incident happen, it can leverage features specifically suited to a company with industrial field service workers. It can track certifications, help schedule work crews, and avoid fines and liabilities. Managers can also confirm user qualifications and manage assets, creating a safer job site for operators and technicians and ensuring better production to guarantee employee and customer satisfaction.

Instilling safety and confidence

Industrial service providers meet unique situations daily, and the fact remains that a generalized software package will never be able to meet the needs of these types of companies. Every piece of an FSM platform supports these employees to work in a safer environment, reducing the risks they would otherwise face. The ripple effect will enable workflows to remain consistent, retain and attract talent, reduce injuries, cut costs, ensure employees and customers are satisfied, and keep a company’s reputation glowing.

Matt Danna is the Senior Director of Product Strategy at ServiceMax and has worked in software for over 25 years. Danna’s background brings a depth of knowledge in software engineering, sales engineering, and product management. He primarily works with customers, key stakeholders, implementation managers, account executives, and developers to ensure alignment across all parties.

About the Author

Matt Danna | Senior Director of Product Strategy | ServiceMax

Matt Danna is the senior director of product strategy at ServiceMax and has worked in software for over 25 years. Danna’s background brings a depth of knowledge in software engineering, sales engineering, and product management. His primary function is to work with customers, key stakeholders, implementation managers, account executives, and developers to ensure alignment across all parties.

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