For a significant portion of my 30-year career, I have had the pleasure of working in the Field Service industry. The perspective I gained from this experience, working in both the management of field resources and with the technology supporting the business, has had an enormous impact on my outlook when it comes to Workforce Management; as well as how I view the employees of the organizations I have the privilege of working with. During this time, I was lucky enough to work with a gentleman who came from the trade and had a deep respect for field service management, as well as a passion to drive improvement. He recognized that Field Service is an honourable profession, made up, for the most part, of local heroes, and thus became absolutely dedicated to developing a Workplace Safety initiative that ensured they were protected. By employing a strategy to blend culture and technology together to build an awareness and avoidance of near misses and injuries, we enjoyed a significant improvement year after year to our workplace safety measures.
Beyond the obvious concern for the safety and well-being of employees, this translates to cost savings and higher productivity, as well as a corporate culture employees across all levels, are proud to stand behind.
Why It matters
Your employees are your most valuable resource; your technicians are the resources that face the most danger and must do so on a daily basis while working.
- Motor vehicle accidents are the greatest single cause of Ontario worker fatalities, and being on the road is intrinsically linked to a Field Service technicians work.
- Falls cost WSIB (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board) $11,771 per claim, and they estimate lost productivity and staff replacement for a businesses can be as much as four times more – approximately $59,000 per injury; falls account for 70% of their claims, and include “same-level” falls.
- 8 million days of work a year are lost due to injury in BC alone, with Service Workers accounting for 17% of all occupational injuries.
- High injury rates lead to high turnover; the cost of replacing an employee is 150% of that person’s base salary due to hiring, training, loss of productivity, etc.
The hazards that Field Service workers face are expansive, and protecting them requires going beyond safety regulation compliance. They are the face of an organization, and should be able to have confidence that they can do their job with minimal risk to their personal safety.
Culture and technology
Making safety a priority in an organization isn’t as steep a task as it sounds with the tools available today. Working as a team, making sure everyone is aware of what is needed to ensure an organization is operating to the best possible standards; awareness and communication are the key, and technology aids this immensely.
- Enables dispatchers, schedulers, and technicians to focus on safety before a technician is even sent to a job site, by basing job assignments on a technician’s skill set.
- Gaps in training or equipment can be more easily assessed, which helps identify areas for continued improvement.
- Parameters can be set in place to minimize a technician’s exposure to risk, by lessening travel time, double checking safety compliance, or restricting time at high-risk sites.
This builds bridges between departments, giving more meaning to tasks while at the same time making them easier to perform.
- Provides a direct line between dispatchers and technicians while technicians are in the field; customized apps allow for accelerated check-ins and reporting of emergencies.
- High-risk jobs can be more closely watched; workers are not alone in the field, dispatchers are kept up-to-date and have more control to help when needed.
- Reminders and automated compliance checks address additional gaps needed in training or qualifications.
Constant connection is more than a hhelplinewhen needed, it provides peace of mind for workers in the field, and shows both them and everyone else in the organization that they are valued. The ease at which safety can be integrated into an organization’s culture when it is linked to the tools they use in their daily operations is phenomenal. Accessibility to information, in combination with the integration of it into daily work life, results in a better overall awareness of safety, as well as its impact on the business.
The options available for improvement are much more comprehensive to an individual organization’s needs than what I mentioned above. Beyond out of the box solutions, technology can now be adapted to fit an organization’s particular set of requirements. Solutions tailored to suit an organization’s employee base, made to address their individual safety concerns and needs, bring an even greater value. I mentioned communication and awareness, which are things that can be voiced, but making them a part of an organization’s corporate culture is what it takes to have lasting success. While the quantifiable financial benefits may be a large incentive for some, the culture that improved safety builds will garner a lasting impact that goes beyond an organization’s bottom line. Employees that are not only being told their organization cares about their safety and well-being, but are also being shown by investment into technology and practices that will keep them safe, are employees that will be loyal, caring, and fantastic representatives for their business.