June is National Safety Month and safety is a major part of reducing damages!
Tailgate meetings & toolbox talks are essential for communicating hazards and improving safety on site. Utility locators are often in dangerous situations and having a morning meet allows for direct communication and a refocusing on safety. Here are some topics to consider sharing with your locators in the field:
Locators have a tough job, working in the elements and in potentially dangerous places. Their work requires a lot of focus on the task at hand and so it is essential to teach them to identify and assess worksite hazards. A good idea is to have them carry out a quick assessment before locating. OSHA suggests:
- Collecting existing information about workplace hazards
- Inspecting the workplace for safety hazards
- Identifying health hazards
- Conducting incident investigations
- Identifying hazards associated with emergency and non-routine situations
- Characterizing the nature of identified hazards, identifying interim control measures, and prioritizing hazards for control
Having a record of potential hazards is also important and so we've built in a notes section to Utilocate so that the next locator on site will be informed of the potential danger, which would feed into step one of OSHA's advice.
Locators are often walking over tough terrain in isolated placed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there were 1,102 fatal falls in the construction industry in 2019. A talk on how to prevent falls, slips, & trips should cover speaking up when workers see a potential issue, cleaning up spills and anything slippery, ensuring walkways are clear of all tripping hazards, making sure floor mats lay flat, and not going over the load limit on a ladder, according to the CDC. Also if you want to create a culture of safety you need to make sure locators in the field have the right footwear for the task, maybe with vibram soles so they can retain grip.
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is anything your locator needs to wear in order to protect them, including hi-vis vests, safety glasses etc. Despite the safety advantages locators commonly work without their PPE due to hassle or forgetfulness. This is an opportunity for changing the safety culture within your company and transforming procedures to enforce PPE adherence.
You could start by looking at the PPE needs of your locators, and assessing what other similar industries do. Once you've discussed with your locators the need to wear PPE, you can then follow up by implementing checks; for example in your ticket management software you could place a health and safety checklist to make sure they've got their gear and are wearing it.
Stress and fatigue are real issues for lots of workers, but locators have a particular set of stresses and tiring activities which can be difficult to mitigate. Packed schedules, difficult routes, unexpected circumstances and unclear instructions make locating difficult. Have a discussion with your field crew on what issues they're having a strike up an action plan to deal with them. We've designed a few features for Utilocate to help with some of these issues including automated routed which chooses the most optmized route, and bulk reassigns so dispatch can quickly respond and ease workload are easily deployed and make.
There are other human factors at play though so check up on your locators to make sure they're getting enough sleep and if they're not find out why. You can also teach them to recognize the signs of fatigue in themselves and others as well as fatigue management solutions which will benefit your entire team.
Also since music can help alleviate stress, you could make a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music so that your locators can destress while driving to their next appointment.
Technology is also a major part of safety. You can talk with your locators about recording more data and information on potential hazards, assessing the site for potential dangers, and leaning on the ticket management software to take some of the stress out of their day. We've designed Utilocate to be 'click efficient' so that locators don't get fatigued having to use the mouse on their laptop or fingers on their phone. Pre-completions and completions can help to enforce PPE usage and safety checks also.
If we all do our part to increase safety and implement a safety culture then we can protect locators in the field and ease the way for zero damages. At Competers our goal is to do just that and so we've implemented features like auto-routing, safety checklists and more. People are our biggest asset in this industry and so it's important we protect them
LATEST FROM NO DAMAGE
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