Construction Workers Face Risks at Job Sites Daily: How Managers Can Mitigate Hazards and Enforce Safety
Safety in the construction world is paramount, but workers find themselves operating equipment and machines that have become more and more complex. As such, it’s not uncommon for problems to arise with some frequency. The risks these workers face at job sites can be abundant, leading to injuries and even fatalities. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, field service work is one of the deadliest professions.
The bureau’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows that in 2020 alone there were almost 5,000 fatal occupational injuries, so it’s not surprising to hear that construction workers can be exposed to a variety of possible risks. These risks often include heavy machinery, power tools, scaffolding, electrical equipment, and falling, to name a few. Given that workers operate heavy machinery and equipment daily, risks often arise from a lack of proper education, poor upkeep of equipment, and gaps in communication and compliance. All of this can lead to a slowdown in production and a hit to customer satisfaction, which can do lasting damage to revenue and reputation.
There will always be some degree of risk when it comes to construction work. Still, the stakes are higher when equipment and heavy machinery are neglected, especially for companies with dozens or hundreds of assets – all of which must be maintained. There’s no doubt that adequately maintaining assets is one of the most crucial parts of creating a safe environment in the field. When this is done manually, there is a greater chance for human error, leading to possible injuries or fatalities.
To mitigate risk, field service technicians can utilize a field service management (FSM) solution to conduct preventive maintenance. From the moment a piece of equipment or machinery is sent to a job site, everything related to the equipment’s usage can also be captured within the FSM solution. This gives businesses and managers remote visibility to assets on site, including operating time, how much it is being utilized, engine hours, and anything else associated with proper maintenance when it returns to the facility.
An FSM solution uses predictive intelligence to generate work orders that align with scheduled tests, hours in operation, and other dates through meter readings, enabling it to alert management ahead of time when parts will be needed for service or asset repair. This means that, before an asset begins breaking down, experiencing issues, or requiring general maintenance, an FSM solution can fire off an alert that notifies technicians and safety managers of the piece of equipment requiring attention. This not only helps to mitigate safety hazards, but also provides greater visibility into upcoming costs, which increases the quality of service. As a result, utilizing an FSM solution bolsters safety, sustainability, and reliability.
Communication is Key
An end-to-end FSM solution is the first step in creating a safer and more communicative working environment. Opening the communications between the office and the workers at the construction site through an FSM solution means having a real-time free flow of information between the two. This allows everyone to be made better aware of any hazards and create a plan accordingly.
It can help businesses keep all stakeholders safe by enabling them to improve communication, prevent citations, help schedule work crews, share knowledge, track certification, focus on worker retention, and attract new talent. Additionally, it can ensure compliance by reconnecting the office and field as well as handling job safety assessments. All of this will keep employees safe while ensuring companies avoid unnecessary liabilities and fines.
It can also give workers relevant details on the job they are doing. For example, an FSM solution can include instructions, notes, and tasks pertinent to their specific job. It may also include instructions if hazardous issues arise, such as what types of PPE are required or suggestions on securing the area. Information is provided to workers to identify potential risks that come with the job they are doing, but it will also guide them on how to properly elaborate on an incident if one has taken place. It will give a checklist of things to do, like securing the hazardous space, notifying others in the area, and alerting their supervisor.
An FSM solution gives companies the tools it needs to build specific forms that can help to streamline their operations. These forms can be used to establish multiple layers of safety.
When information is input into the form, it all becomes aggregated, reported, and actionable. Take, for example, when there is a known fall hazard at a construction site. An FSM solution can take that knowledge, create records, and use the information to send automatic emails to anyone it could possibly impact. This is possible with the identification of any hazard, which means they can be better avoided. As a result, this creates a much safer working atmosphere while also ensuring protocols are followed during and following an accident.
Additional layers of safety include the ability for managers to create protocols that will keep employees from doing anything in the system until they have answered a series of questions specific to safety protocols. Then, a supervisor’s signature may be required for them to access the system. Plus, all of this can be made available offline.
Meeting Construction Needs
Construction workers face unique and risky situations daily and, when it comes down to it, guaranteeing their safety is the #1 goal. This field of work is just too important to our economy. A generalized software package simply can’t meet these specific needs.
Each piece of an FSM solution gives managers and workers the tools they need to create the safest work environment, eliminating unnecessary risks. With a digital solution, every piece of information is recorded and always accessible at both the worksite and the facility. This will keep a job running smoothly and on time, as well as keep customers and employees happy, which will make a company’s reputation strong and its bottom line unwavering.
Matt Danna is the Senior Director of Product Strategy FieldFX, ServiceMax (servicemax.com).
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