Dynamics Matters Podcast Ep 88: How technology improves safety for field workers

With special guest Danny Wieder, Senior Field Service Consultant, HSO

✔ How to monitor and manage field worker risk

✔ The role of scheduling on keeping work on track

✔ How technology can help keep your field staff safe

Transcript

Hello and welcome to the HSO dynamics matters podcast, your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I'm Michael Lonnon and today I'm joined by field service expert and clearly a dog lover, as you'll hear in a moment, Danny Weider.

In this edition, we discuss how technology can help improve safety fulfilled and remote workers and then we dig into some intrinsic benefits that occur as a result of this.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, enjoy the show

Michael Lonnon
We're talking today about safety environments for field workers and how technology can help those who are often working in isolation and safety for those people out in the field.

Danny Weider
First of all, there's the indirect way, so the way of managing safety. So, engineers drive a lot. They tend to be on the road a lot and they tend to work very long hours and you need to manage that, because dispatchers just want to get the jobs done, because they have got SLAs to meet customers’ demands, but that conflicts with engineers. They have a requirement for having a reasonable work length to the working day. Their technology helps by recording and reporting the number of hours engineers work, the number of hours to drive, the ratio between the driving time and the time on the job, the working time. Obviously, you want to minimise that because travel, is by definition, not productive. Productive time is spent working on customer sites. There's the reporting and management aspect, and there's a duty of care as well that employers have, they need to make sure that's within bounds of the European Working Time Directive, which limits how long they can work. You've got scheduling tools that let you maximise the work time and minimise travelling time. It's very difficult to get the scheduling right and they help you maximise productivity of employees, but engineers are happy when they have to drive a little less. They want to drive a certain amount because they are out and about, but minimising that is important. There are also certain behaviours that are important. You want to encourage engineers to assess the risks and take appropriate action for there's a duty of care aspect, and there's a behaviour aspect. This is not a ticking the box exercise, this is important. So, now you have risk assessments.

Michael Lonnon
So, is this the individuals assessing or logging information about the risk?

Danny Weider
Yes, and these are structured. So, you will have on your device, a risk assessment, questionnaire type, if you like, which is appropriate to the type of work the engineer does and that will ask questions, for instance, are you working at height, are there any corrosive substances around you, are you doing hot works is there any electrical or any risk of electrical shocks or slippages and so on. Then what mitigating actions are you taking, are using PPE, or using gloves or using goggles and that sort of stuff that engineers need to log, and they need to log those before they can start work that forces the engineer to actually go through a process and it will modify behaviour.

Michael Lonnon
What happens to that information once it's logged, where does it go?

How to make your new Microsoft project a guaranteed success

In 10 minutes, this brochure shows you how to launch projects in the quickest possible time, resolve mistakes and mishaps, and keep your ongoing costs to the barest minimum.

How to make your new Microsoft project a guaranteed success

Danny Weider
So typically, it might stay in a database. It could get reported out and reviewed. It can get printed out. I think printing is a rarity, but the point is that people have to fill it out. It also puts the onus an engineer, because if he does have an accident, and he didn't follow the procedure, he didn't put on the PPE and so on, then there's also an aspect of that, that the company isn't then exposed to litigation. If he didn't follow the procedure, that’s more of his issue than the companies.

Michael Lonnon
I guess if the individuals are logging this information and it’s getting reported and stored and managed, depending on the job, obviously, it has to be managed, and the responses are being given by the technology is advising the individual what they should do, but that must give the service organisation a lot of confidence that the field workers are being, not necessarily supported, but get being given the right information and the right advice to do the job in the safest way possible.

Danny Weider
Yeah, and this does tend to happen that these questionnaires are not static they do get changed with input from engineers. So, they do get reviewed and some of them are very extensive. I've seen examples with 50 questions. It's quite extensive and so in a similar vein, what people have started introducing or companies have started introducing is vehicle checklists, because when you drive, you're only as safe as your vehicle. It's important that tire pressure gets checked, the engine gets checked the tread and so on. So, companies are also introducing with a weekly or sometimes even a daily cursory check on your vehicle in the morning, again, to make sure it’s as safe as it can be and it follows a similar pattern that these engineers do need to log on to the device and as they do that, they have to confirm the vehicle is safe to drive.

Michael Lonnon
Okay, so they’re logging into the device, wherever they are, the information is then put back into the back system, and that information is assessed and advice and guidance is then given from there.

Danny Weider
Yeah, it's probably more about creating the discipline, to force an engineer to record his tire pressure, rather than anything more than that, because once the discipline is there, they'll act accordingly. Another thing you mentioned earlier. Engineers often will work by themselves and so the obvious aspect of that they are alone, working perhaps at night, at a site that's remote. What happens if something happens to you, nobody knows. So, the now the remote worker technologies, one of the things we can do, for instance, with Microsoft field service, is to monitor how long an engineer hasn’t moved because we have is coordinates and if he doesn't leave customer site within a specific amount of time, that can create an email to a supervisor perhaps who might contact him find out what's going on. So, the various technologies that help ensure that if something happens on site, it gets discovered as quickly as possible. There are specific devices that will let the engineer raise an alarm if he is able to, perhaps from a smartwatch or gadgets that he has on his body.

Michael Lonnon
So, if he's fallen or anything like that, or something's landed on him, it's able to report this and because the systems are linked, it’s then telling the supervisor was going on, and they can act from there.

Danny Weider
Yeah, there's also another aspect again, where technology can help and this is perhaps a little bit more unusual, but where we tend to think, very often that engineers gone to businesses to fix maybe air conditioning or whatever, but they also have to go to private properties and there you have another security issue on occasions. If you work in social housing, you may have some tenants who have antisocial behaviour, and you may need to send two engineers for safety in numbers. So again, systems are capable of recording this type of information, so it flags it up when you log a call, log a service work order. For a property where this risk exists, flags in our company automatically annoying, it's sent to engineers when escort of some sort. So, it's a security IT security can be concerned as well.

Summary
If you're working in a remote part of the country on your own in wind, rain, snow, or sun, day or night, or down in a tunnel, performing your job to the best of your ability, it's reassuring to know that whether by tablet, phone or even a watch, you may connect it to your base of operations. So, if something should go wrong, the alarm is immediately raised. Or if you do need to do job and risk updates you can do so in real time. That's the power of technology such as Microsoft Field Service, which provide that lifeline to your most important assets, your people.

I think it was JW Marriott who once said, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself and on that note, thanks for listening. Take care of yourselves

Get more insight from HSO's Microsoft technology experts

Get in touch with HSOs Field Service experts

By using this form you agree to the storage and processing of the data you provide, as indicated in our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe from sent messages at any time. Please review our privacy policy for more information on how to unsubscribe, our privacy practices and how we are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy.