Tackling Field Safety with Corrective Action Software
Working in the field is much less predictable than working in a warehouse, manufacturing facility, or production plant. You can’t always control the workspace. And there are a lot more external variables to manage. Field safety corrective action software can help solve this problem by providing structure in an unpredictable environment.
A dedicated system for recording and organizing documents makes it easy to analyze field safety incidents and come up with corrective actions. Then, using the information you’ve gathered and tasks you’ve created, you can use the software to track whether your initiatives have worked.
The Unique Challenge of Field Safety
Accidents happen but that doesn’t mean they’re inevitable. Workplace safety outcomes have improved tremendously since the 1970s, but there’s still much more work to do. One of the biggest opportunities is improving safety conditions in the field.
“The field” can refer to many different environments: farming fields, offshore drilling operations, wind farms, etc. One commonality between all these work areas is that they are more difficult to secure for safety. Prepping for field safety involves:
- Supplying the right PPE
- Inspecting equipment before use
- Blocking off unsafe areas
- Training employees on correct field safety behaviors
- Enforcing safe behavior expectations
- Setting up emergency protocols
- Planning for limited communication and access to aid
A quick look into OSHA’s accident reports database proves just how variable and difficult to control the field can be. For example, a search for heat-related incidents returns more than 970 results. Many of these include outdoor incidents where workers face prolonged exposure and suffer severe heat-induced medical conditions—oftentimes leading to death.
Common causes of field safety incidents include:
- Being struck by heavy machinery or equipment
- Falling from heights without proper fall protection
- Being hit by a vehicle
- Getting stuck in between objects
- Suffering respiratory issues from poor ventilation (common in confined spaces)
- Being exposed to the elements
While you might encounter these types of incidents in a controlled setting, dealing with them in the field is much more difficult. You can’t follow the same incident management procedures because you don’t have the same resources.
Regardless of what type of field environment you work in, the unique challenge of unpredictability still stands. That’s why field safety corrective action planning is so important—unexpected issues need immediate solutions.
Improve Your Emergency Response Procedures
On March 1st and 2nd of 2022, two construction workers who worked in different states died after they were run over by bull dozers. One worker died in the hospital while the other died onsite. Although both incidents had the same outcome and similar variables, the events leading up to that outcome were completely different.
When you arrive on the scene of an incident, you have a very quick window to decide what to do. The pace of your incident management is going to be much faster if you’re dealing with an active injury (as opposed to a fatality). Preparing for these variations is difficult, which is why your emergency response procedures should be flexible.
In the field, you may have to rearrange your priorities. You won’t always be able to control the tools and resources you have, but you can control your emergency response procedures.
Field safety corrective action software makes that easier by allowing you to customize workflows. You can improve your emergency protocols by creating reports that reflect the order of operations you want to follow in the field. Using software for field reports also means that you won’t lose anything in transit. Because everything is stored in the cloud, you can access it when you need to finish or review a report.
This means that if you have to triage major injuries on the scene, you can fill out an incident report intermittently when it’s convenient for you. All changes and updates are automatically saved, reducing the amount of difficult rework that might happen without a software solution.
Make Your Corrective Actions Proactive
By definition, a corrective action takes place after an incident has already happened. But you can still be proactive and plan for the implementation and follow-through of these actions ahead of time.
Remember, you won’t be able to follow the same procedures in the field as you’d be able to in a facility. So, your corrective actions might be delayed or implemented differently. Here are some questions to consider when planning your field incident management strategy:
- If your corrective actions require new equipment to be taken to the field, who is in charge of making sure it gets there?
- How can you make it easier for workers to get safety help in the field?
- Once you find the root cause of a field incident, how will you methodically close out action items?
- How often will you audit corrective action items and address ones that are still open?
- What kind of signage can you use to remind workers of critical safety measures in the field?
The main obstacle you’ll face while trying to track action item in the field is distance. If your workers visit houses and businesses, you should focus on equipment and training-related actions. If your workers visit an offsite, remote location, however, you should focus on location-specific action items.
Monitor Your Field Safety Corrective Actions Over Time
Perhaps the most important part of corrective action is following-up on action items after an incident. When safety teams communicate, report, and track action items in multiple locations, however, it’s hard to ensure proper follow-up.
For example, you might have the onsite EHS specialist respond to the incident, compile the report, and decide the corrective actions to take. But you might have multiple safety team members providing post-injury care to the worker or implementing a preventative solution.
The benefit of corrective action software is that any documentation gets uploaded and communicated in one place. Instead of multiple emails, paper reports, and digital documents, your team has one central location for all correspondence and reporting.
Given the unpredictability of the field, it’s important to have a clear approach to corrective action. Depending on where an incident happens, you might not have access to otherwise critical resources like cell phone service and emergency response equipment. That’s why you need to adapt by having a secure way to complete tasks even if you’re offline.
Field safety corrective action software can improve every step in your approach. From making it easy to document and update incident reports to centralizing your team’s communications, software simplifies the entire process. When you consider all stages of incident management, it’s clear that software provides the simplest way to improve field safety corrective action.