The 3 Pillars of Workplace Safety: A 360 Degree Navigation Approach [2022]

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on October 25, 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Workplace Safety. Those two words weigh heavily on local, regional, national, and global levels. Safety is consistently ranked at the top when assessing and identifying core values as a field service organization. As field service organizations, we constantly ask ourselves questions on how to pivot and be agile. The answer lies in identifying, assessing, and acting on a well-thought-out safety workplace plan which identifies not your typical conventional approaches. We are not alone in this mentality. In May 2020, The National Safety Council (NSC) announced SAFER: Safety Actions For Employee Returns, a comprehensive, multifaceted effort to guide employers through the process of “safely resuming” traditional work and operations in a post-pandemic environment.

Field service teams should be aware of adopting a holistic approach to safety. This 360-degree view focuses on three pillars to safely run enterprises through complex situations to create sustainability and positivity among field service technicians, administrative staff, and customers. These pillars include Workplace Injury Avoidance, Health Precaution, and Inclusion Check-in.

An article by David Burritt, President and CEO of U.S. Steel, and Lorraine Martin, president, and CEO of NCS, indicate that for challenging workplaces such as manufacturing plants, a focus on the physical safety of those facilities often results in “marked improvement in key safety performance indicators.” However, that is only the beginning of proactively adopting an all-encompassing safe place to work. Burritt and Martin also argue that leading organizations of all sizes and measures should put more focus and emphasis “on the importance of building and supporting workplace environments where employees feel psychologically safe as well.” However, how can these challenges be solved and practically applied to enterprises with facilities, mobile workforces, and customer contact touch points?

Workplace Injury Avoidance

Utility technician fixing telephone wires.
Utility technician fixes telephone wires.

NSC reported that “every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job.” These numbers are often changing; however, the focus should be that they can certainly be preventable. Taking preventative action can spare workers needless pain and suffering. The top 5 occupations with the most significant workplace injuries include service, transportation/shipping, manufacturing production, installation, maintenance and repair, and construction.

The most common types of injuries keeping workers away from work are:

  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Soreness and pain
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures

To take preventative action, field service teams can help to implement various helpful reminders or digital checklists within the work order process to remind employees before they start their shift. Some of these include:

Overextension causes 33.4% of injuries

  • Helpful tips: Avoid bending, reaching, and twisting while lifting.
  • Take frequent short breaks.

Contact with objects and equipment (either struck by or against, caught in or compressed by equipment or objects)

  • Store heavy objects close to the floor and wear proper protective equipment.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

  • Place the base of ladders on an even, solid surface.
  • Make sure to properly assess the work environment of any dangers before starting your shift.

Health Precautions for Field Service Technicians and Customer Visits

Field service female technician in protective gear, stands in front of protective clothing, with a clipboard.
Woman in protective equipment.

With the current challenging dynamic of traveling to customer sites, such as when a vital appliance, like a refrigerator, breaks, or an emergency break/fix occurs, the service professional should take preventive measures to avoid unnecessary contact.

  • Before leaving for the customer’s site or home, wash your hands for 20 seconds and dry with a paper towel, and properly dispense them.
  • Call the customer, so they can either make the proper adjustments when entering and avoid touching unnecessary surfaces.
  • For any tools you bring, do not put them on a table or counter-top. Place a mat (ideally dispensable) on the floor and place items only on the mat.
  • When work is completed, offer an electronic report document of the work. Ask for a signature via an online portal where customers can sign off on work completion via regulations or requirements.

Enterprises can also configure and streamline proper digital checklists their employees should follow before their shift begins and when traveling to the customer service site. You can learn more in NSC’s Transportation Workplace Return Checklist for more ideas and eliminate distracted driving.

Inclusion Check-In

A safe work environment protects lives, prevents injuries, and provides a place where all employees can feel safe. In addition, improving on this pillar protects your workforce’s ability to share their opinions, challenge the current status quo, and inspire new learning. Fostering an inclusive and positive working environment can be shown in these simple steps:

  • Observe the actions of those around us.
  • Listen more closely to our coworkers.
  • Consider other perspectives and challenge our own biases.
  • Incorporate employee surveys to communicate and engage with staff that you are listening to their perspectives and assessing your organization’s strengths and new opportunities.

Helping to create a holistic approach to safety will significantly help all enterprises, especially your mobile field staff and customers, to feel more at ease in the workplace.

With over 33 years in helping enterprises across the globe implement safety and regulation protocols into their daily workflows, Gomocha can guide you to success. A significant first step is to deploy easy digital forms, checklists, and surveys for technicians to incorporate on-site as safety protocols continue to change. Talk to Gomocha to learn more about optimizing safety protocols and guidelines through standardized workflows. Request, call 240-403-6001, or email to share your story and tell us how we can best help and support you.