Field Service Management: Safety and Compliance

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Field Service Management

Safety is often overlooked and underappreciated; most people acknowledge its importance but rarely pay attention to safety announcements on flights or thoroughly read safety procedures in employee handbooks. When everything runs smoothly in our daily business operations, safety rarely crosses the minds of business owners, field technicians, and dispatchers.

The truth is, safety doesn’t seem relevant until something goes wrong. We only begin to care about safety and recognize its value when an unfortunate incident occurs. We don’t contemplate the oxygen masks on a plane until turbulence strikes. We don’t truly appreciate the airbags and crumple zones in our cars until we’re involved in an accident.

However, with the right practices and effective risk management, these risks can be mitigated. Field service management software, particularly for contractors and service businesses, can play a crucial role in minimizing risks to employees, owners, and customers, ensuring everyone’s satisfaction, and keeping them out of trouble.

Proof of work and labor lies at the core of service management programs. They enable both the office and the customer to outline specific work requirements, providing technicians with the necessary information to complete their tasks. The customers receive digital invoices and documents as evidence that the work order has been fulfilled.

This digital trail, a basic feature available in all field service systems, offers significant benefits and safeguards for businesses and their employees, protecting them from potential legal liabilities. Technicians can attach visual proof of completed work, such as photos, videos, and inspection forms, to the work order. 

Many service management applications incorporate geo-tracking, allowing system administrators to track technicians’ locations throughout the day. Additionally, some applications provide an audit log for work orders and customer records, enabling business owners to review the full history of any edits made. Furthermore, technicians can complete digital forms, such as inspection reports or installation checklists, ensuring compliance with procedures and protocols.

These seemingly simple functions within service management programs offer substantial protection for companies, employees, and customers, facilitating the identification of dishonest parties.

Preventing safety hazards

It is another crucial aspect of field service management. The nature of field service work involves potential dangers, such as climbing ladders, using power tools, handling electrical equipment, and operating heavy machinery. Certain industries, like roofing, pose even higher risks, with the industry ranking fifth in terms of death rates among all construction sectors, recording 30 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. These risks contribute to the $62 billion lost in productivity each year.

Furthermore, customers also face risks in various field service scenarios. Improperly installed electrical systems can lead to fires, electrocution, and even fatalities. Collapsing roofs, falling fans, and poorly constructed structures can cause serious injuries. Certain field service companies, like those responsible for medical device repair, encounter even greater risks.

While no software can fully replace proper safety practices, service management programs, when combined with the right procedures and mindset, can effectively minimize harm to contractors, patients, and customers. 

Timesheets and geo-tracking features ensure that technicians log their time and travel, complying with regulations regarding working hours. 

Attachments, such as disclaimers, can inform customers of potential hazards associated with new equipment or construction. 

Asset management and recurring schedules enable service teams to schedule maintenance for equipment, such as furnaces and ventilation systems, ensuring they operate correctly and do not pose risks to customers.

The right software alone does not guarantee safety; it must be accompanied by the right procedures and attitudes. When all three elements align, contractors and service teams can significantly reduce workplace injuries.

Legal risks and compliance 

The lifecycle of service management and safety extends beyond customers, technicians, and business owners. In many industries, regulatory bodies like the EPA, FDA, and local governing agencies establish requirements for work performed in the field, often carrying significantly higher risks. 

While legal compliance may not concern every field service industry, those with a high risk of legal issues face steep penalties for non-compliance. Failure to adhere to regulations set by federal or state governments can result in hefty fines, business closures, and even imprisonment.

The medical device repair industry faces some of the most stringent regulations, with the FDA mandating the electronic submission of 65 data points for every device. Technicians working on medical devices must undergo training and certification, and the barcode of each device must be scanned before service commences. 

All these data points must be collected on-site and cannot be entered retrospectively. Even a seemingly simple act like a technician writing down work order information and later inputting it into a computer violates FDA terms and conditions, potentially resulting in fines and legal consequences.

Field service managing applications, with their extensive documentation capabilities, safeguard both service providers and customers. In the event of incidents at food processing plants or restaurants, service providers can easily access work order records and digital forms to investigate the specific circumstances. The combination of geo-tracking functions and audit logs makes it easy to determine the origin of a form.

Conclusion

Disputes between contractors and customers incur significant time and financial costs for both parties. Contractors strive to maintain their reputation, while customers fear being deceived. When legal liability and regulatory bodies are involved, the consequences can be severe. Field service management tool like FieldCircle, with its specific workflows, detailed documentation, and streamlined information sharing, alleviates these challenges for businesses and customers alike.

Read Also: Connecticut Residents: Find Out What’s Required For a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit