Health and safety risks are ongoing concerns for any organization with field operations, particularly when teams are isolated from the home office or deployed to unfamiliar environments. When field teams don’t have the right knowledge or tools to identify and mitigate potential hazards, safety risks increase, especially if they are isolated or lack resources in emergencies.
To mitigate these risks, most organizations have health and safety programs to provide safety training and resources, including measures that range from protective equipment to emergency response plans. But to enhance safety most effectively, companies need to leverage mobile technologies. By keeping field teams always connected and updated, health and safety inspection software simplifies your team’s efforts to manage their own safety effectively in a way that improves communication, productivity, and situational awareness – all of which make a safety manager’s job easier.
In this post, we’ll look at how health and safety inspection platforms keep field teams safe, even under adverse conditions, so they always get home safely with the job well done. First, we’ll go through some of the common challenges faced by organizations as they try to ensure the safety of their field teams.
Challenges to ensuring safety for field teams
Lack of experience: Increasing on-site safety risks, inexperienced workers may not have the skills, knowledge, or expertise to identify and mitigate potential hazards, resulting in higher accident rates (for example: a whopping 60% of construction worker injuries occur in the first year on the job). This means they may either fail to properly inspect a site’s equipment or installation, be unable to respond to a safety situation at hand, or be the cause of an accident themselves.
Lack of supervision: There is a chance that field teams out of contact with the home office are not performing inspections to the most updated specs and compliance requirements. Without a fast, reliable way to be supervised, field teams lacking proper oversight from off-site managers are more likely to make misinformed decisions that put themselves and others at risk, either in the moment or in the future.
Lack of communication: Lack of communication across teams creates confusion and misunderstandings, leaving everyone – from field teams to supervisors to even upper management – ill-prepared to handle potential dangers. Poor communication also slows down response efforts, whether for emerging safety hazards or for longer-term remediation.
Lack of connectivity: No connection means no information – and increases the risk of teams reverting to paper and missing out on the benefits of a digital field inspection program. Without access to important data or the means to share it, teams have no way to monitor their immediate environment or coordinate with HQ about more complex or evolving safety threats. This lack of situational awareness leaves teams ill-informed of their working conditions and can result in unexpected hazards or incidents.
Lack of available field resources: If field teams discover potential hazards during inspections, they may not have the resources to mitigate them on the spot, be it specialized equipment or personnel. Even if prepared for most eventualities, conditions on the ground can change at a moment’s notice, leaving them unequipped to deal with unfolding safety issues.
Lack of visibility: Keeping track of field team locations and work progress is no easy task. When multiple field teams and members are spread across various sites and executing different tasks, the reams of data which pour in, if not properly managed or shared, can cloud an off-site supervisor’s understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Lack of visibility can misinform decision-making, leaving field teams exposed to potential hazards.
Overcoming challenges — even without internet
By integrating and coordinating all the data, tasks, and workflows that comprise an effective EHS inspection program, health and safety inspection software overcomes the challenges faced EHS inspection teams and supervisors – even if they are not connected online – in the following ways:
SOPs: EHS managers can customize inspection checklists with detailed SOPs and step-by-step instructions that are easy for anyone to follow, especially important for inexperienced workers. Supervisors can update SOPs in real-time, so that field teams are always doing what needs to be done for both their own safety and to prove compliance – and only need to do it once without returning to the field.
Offline Maps: Field teams need to know where they are and where they’re going at all times, including the specific coordinates of inspection points. Health and safety inspection software allows field teams to download and use offline maps so that, even if they are remote and not connected to the internet, they can still always get to a potentially problematic inspection point and mitigate any safety risks.
Mandatory fields and multimedia uploads: As your field team goes through its SOPs, digital inspection software keeps their work on track by incorporating mandatory fields that ensure thorough inspections and nobody overlooks a potential safety risk. These can include requirements to take and upload photos or videos to prove compliance or, if there is a problem, visual data to further mitigate potential risk.
Location verification: Leveraging a mobile device’s built-in GPS, inspection software gets your team to where they need to be faster. Whether they need to perform an overdue inspection, mitigate an ongoing safety risk, or simply prevent future hazards by dint of a regular inspection, field teams that know where they need to be – by a quick glance on their phones – can more quickly and effectively assess and mitigate risks.
Reference documentation: EHS managers can add any number of additional reference documents and photos to records so that field teams have all the information they need to get the job done and stay safe. Additional information not only promotes more thorough inspections, but when your whole field team works from the same updated data and protocols, everyone is accountable to the same safety standards.
Digital tools for better management and better safety
Always updated: Real-time data sharing is critical to ensuring safety. If disconnected and on the road, field teams may lack the most current information to perform inspections in the best possible way to mitigate safety risks. With connected digital inspection tools, supervisors can push out the most recent SOPs and safety protocols to the entire team at the push of a button.
Always monitoring: Through real-time data and automated workflows, cloud-connected platforms let managers remotely monitor field teams with ease. By tracking their progress, off-site supervisors have better visibility into both the work at hand – helping ensure compliance and timely remediation – and the wider productivity of teams, equally needed to better manage emerging safety issues and resources.
Always guiding: With full connectivity, supervisors can provide guidance should field teams need information or advice about either routine work or emergencies, especially useful for new and inexperienced employees. To assist, field teams can upload pictures and videos so that supervisors have as much data as possible to provide the best guidance.
Always timely: With instant communication, field team members can immediately share information about working conditions for off-site supervisors to assess in real-time. If further action is required, supervisors can create new records assigning remediation tasks to the on-site field team or a specialized remediation team. And with automated workflows and notifications, supervisors can track remediation efforts to ensure hazards are eliminated for good.
Software that always puts safety first
Health and safety inspection software makes field teams safer and everyone’s job easier.
Fulcrum’s leading digital platform gives field teams a wide range of communication and data collection solutions to enhance their situational awareness and empower them to self-manage their own safety more effectively.
This, of course, streamlines supervisor’s jobs while also giving them more and better visibility to monitor and guide progress, support their teams with better information, and better assess broader safety trends with data-driven insights.
Give your field teams the tools they need to stay safe by signing up for a free trial today.