A Day in the Life of a Field Worker
Raise your hand if any of these have happened during the day in the life of a field worker.
- A mud slide in a remote section of the Rockies closes the highway in an area of spotty cell coverage, stranding a team on the way to site.
- Your Land Agent stumbles across a grow op in the middle of the forest.
- An angry cat takes offence to your census worker at a private home, biting their hand and causing it to swell like a balloon.
- Unforecasted high winds create a life-threatening situation for workers up a cell tower.
- Tree planters encounter a mother bear with cubs.
- A landowner doesn’t like the news you are delivering and pulls a gun.
These are actual examples of situations our clients’ employees or contractors have faced. The last one happened to one of our founders. He was working alone in a remote location and had to pass on information to the landowner. It wasn’t well received. The landowner literally wanted to shoot the messenger! Luckily our founder got out of the situation safely and went on to start Field Safe. He wanted to protect other at-risk workers. Thanks to our founder, times have changed. Read on to learn about the day in the life of a field worker, then and now.
The Early Days of Field Worker Safety: That Was Then
Inefficient Processes and Manual Paperwork
Worker safety is every leader’s number one priority. Governments at all levels, industry associations, and of course, employers have all put regulations, protocols, and safety programs in place to protect workers. But, initially, and current state for those companies yet to invest in a digital solution, that amounted to arming workers with:
- A cell phone (great when you have cell coverage);
- A binder with all regulatory and safety documentation (usually stored somewhere in the back seat of the company truck); and
- A multitude of forms to complete manually.
Indeed, these were a step in the right direction. But they were also fraught with issues like limited cell coverage impacting connectivity, regulations, and safety manual protocols changing rapidly, leading to outdated hard copies and little paperwork completion and submission by workers. Additionally, from an operations perspective, the data collected was often incomplete, illegible, and late… if delivered at all. A day in the life of a field worker was anything but efficient.
A Day in the Life of a Field Worker: This is Now
The Connected Worker
Worker safety is still a top priority for leadership. However, now they are also focused on digitizing the entire enterprise and creating efficiencies that lower operating costs. Truly best-in-class safety programs incorporate a digital solution that impacts and advances all of these priorities. Of course, a digital solution won’t eliminate all of the threats your workers may face. But it will improve their ability to respond (or even avoid them), communicate with others, and create efficiencies like easier forms completion and submission. As well, workers gain access to up-to-date regulations and corporate protocols. These efficiencies result in cost savings and give your workers more time to focus on their core roles so that you can more efficiently meet business commitments.
Connecting your workers with a digital solution makes their jobs easier and improves their well-being. It also creates optimized, lower-cost operations. The superior data generated by improved forms completion is instantly shared. Health and safety data can:
- Predict and protect against emerging risks.
- Inform root cause analysis to mitigate future threats.
- Lower insurance and workers’ compensation costs.
- Help you operate by priority and improve workforce planning and scheduling of asset maintenance.
Change Management and your Health and Safety Program
The best health and safety applications are easy-to-use. They create an all-in-one health and safety system that facilitates user adoption and improves corporate decision-making. But they must also include more than the technology. They should also streamline processes and workflows that make a day in the life of a field worker easier.
At Field Safe, we review these for each client prior to implementing any products. This review inevitably uncovers opportunities to implement change management initiatives to create smarter, more effective workflows. Forms consolidation is a common improvement. For one client, new workflows led to a reduction in required forms by almost half. Another cites a savings of over 1100 completion hours per year for each of its 30 forms. And another has reduced revenue leakage by introducing new workflows that allow it to digitally understand well production and deploy maintenance teams more optimally.
For Your Lone Workers
Ensure a day in the life of a field worker means they are never truly alone
North America has some of the world’s most stringent regulations to protect lone workers. According to feedback from our clients and news articles like this one in SECURITY magazine, the number of lone workers is rising. Therefore, a higher duty of care is expected to protect them. Arming your lone workers with a digital solution with real-time communication capabilities means they are never truly alone. By improving their protection, you also ensure compliance with ever-changing regulations (all updated and available “just in time”). You also protect against fines for non-compliance.
Workers without a digital health and safety application typically start their day by calling or texting a designated person or call-in centre. That works great if each worker remembers to do this. But if they don’t, a time-consuming and inefficient process of calls out is initiated to track down the “missing” workers.
Digital solutions automate the process and track the individual via maps from check-in, check-out, and all points in between. For example, an adjacent team member will investigate if an individual misses a check-in. If necessary, emergency service providers can quickly be engaged. In addition, reporting allows head office to take corrective actions to mitigate future occurrences.
A cell phone is still the cornerstone of your workers’ safety. Thanks to advanced technology like Iridium Go! the service area is extended dramatically, meaning your ability to communicate back and forth happens in real-time more often. Those workers on the cell tower? They would have been notified as soon as the weather shift was observed and would NOT have been up that tower. The mud-slide example? Your team would have been able to communicate about the delay quickly, and alternate workers deployed so as not to impact the project negatively.
Regulations and safety protocols change fast. For example, a cell phone now replaces the binder in the back of the truck. It contains digital documentation, is updated in real-time, and is available as soon as the worker needs it.
And forms? They are all stored and easy to complete and submit. As a result, head office receives completed data instantly, incorporating it into workplace planning, safety programs, and many other initiatives that affect operational efficiencies and lower costs while improving safety
The Road to Zero Incidents Must Include the Journey
One of the riskiest activities faced during a day in the life of a field worker is the time spent in vehicle. Your health and safety program should place strong emphasis on this critical part of worker safety and include:
- A pre-trip risk assessment that not only identifies potential threats but provides guidance on avoidance and mitigation based on that assessment.
- Real-time updates of road conditions, weather, construction and other activities that can impact your ability to conduct your business or threaten worker safety.
- Route optimization advice to keep you on time… and travel costs down.
- Incident documentation that can be communicated in real-time to head office and that includes photo evidence.
On the road to zero incidents, you must be able to track the status of a journey from end to end. Through prompts and reminders sent via mobile devices, workers can easily update, complete, share and report on all stages of their travel.One of the riskiest activities faced during a day in the life of a field worker is the time spent in a vehicle. Therefore, your health and safety program should place a strong emphasis on this critical part of worker safety and include
Field Worker Safety: Looking to the Future
Internet of Behaviors
Companies are always interested in advancements that improve worker safety and support their goal of zero incidents. Geofencing and Internet of Behaviors (IoB) are two areas our clients embrace. At Field Safe, we are incorporating the advancements they create to improve our application continuously. Here’s a simple example. By utilizing the IoB and geofencing functionality, you can push out reminders for your team to complete a vehicle inspection report even before they get to the vehicle, eliminating the potential for this critical journey management step to be overlooked.
Our trusted advisor relationship with clients is one of the main reasons we can nimbly respond to emerging market conditions. Several clients are now leveraging field Safe’s data capture capabilities to meet ESG goals, establishing them as leaders in this emerging area. Of particular note, the environmental savings (along with the reduced paper, vehicle maintenance, and travel costs) provide a near revenue-neutral investment!
Overview: The Internet of Behaviors (IoB) and its Impact on Health and Safety
Everyone is familiar with the Internet of Things. Fewer are familiar with the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).
Overview: Connect your workers to save time, save money and save lives
Connecting your workers with a digital safety application helps executives, board members and health and safety professionals meet their goals of improving worker safety while creating optimized, lower cost operations.