Linemen face myriad dangers when navigating the field. From downed power lines to slick roadways, the hazards are numerous and, in some cases, life-threatening. In 2015, approximately 22 field workers perished on the job, according to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 4,000 sustained nonfatal injuries, a majority of which were the result of slips, trips or falls. Power companies do all they can to protect their workers but many established safety solutions simply are not enough. However, there are nontraditional solutions that may bolster safety offsite.
Mobile applications fall into this category. These digital tools not only usher in new business opportunities but also streamline and solidify operations, facilitating new-and-improved workflows that improve productivity and workplace safety. How?
Transparent emergency response
Power providers deal with outages regularly. So far this year, there have been more than two dozen significant service interruptions, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Of course, dealing with outages is no easy task, especially in particularly populated regions. Customer inquires can become overwhelming, forcing utility managers and field teams work as quickly as possible to restore power. Unfortunately, this accelerated approach can put linemen in harm's way – especially when inclement weather is involved. In an effort to quickly mitigate outages, field teams might go into action with little insight into the obstacles that lie ahead, including problematic vegetation or damaged service delivery fixtures.
Mobile applications like the Crew App from DataVoice make it easy to conduct regular, accurate service equipment assessments and address overgrown vegetation that might otherwise hinder or endanger field crews responding to outages. Additionally, these portals give linemen the power to assemble dossiers on specific service locations, inside information that can come in handy during an emergency. On top of all this, mobile applications connect with larger outage management systems to create an accurate picture of events in the field. This baseline data facilitates effective yet outage safe response practices.
"Employers reported more than 1,200 fatal transportation incidents in 2015."
Safe transportation practices
Field crews spend considerable time on the open road. Surprisingly, navigating this space carries more risk than dealing with downed electrical lines. Employers reported more than 1,200 fatal transportation incidents in 2015, according to statistics from the BLS. This figure accounted for one-quarter of all workplace fatalities in that 12-month span. These unfortunate accidents not only affect the families and friends of the lost, but also the employer, which, in most cases, must pay legal and workers' compensation costs, and allocate funds to cover damaged company property. Additionally, firms may incur financial losses linked to decreased productivity. In the end, the average business pays more than $500,000 per fatal crash, analysts for the BLS found. The median cost drops to $74,000 for non-fatal accidents. Of course, for most organizations, this smaller amount is not immaterial.
While utility managers cannot directly intervene to prevent traffic accidents, they can use cutting-edge technology to monitor the driving habits of their workers and make corrections if necessary. How? Crew-centric mobile applications come equipped with GPS features that allow supervisors to track every service truck that leaves the home office. Managers can view vehicles speeds and survey driving routes. They can also see when service vehicles stop or idle for any reason. This visibility gives power companies the ability to meaningfully address the on-road behavior of their employees and, hopefully, prevent devastating transportation accidents that hurt both families and the business.
Despite the continued development of electrical delivery technology, linemen still face many dangers out in the field, from treacherous service locations to bustling highways and byways. However, utility companies are not powerless to act in these situations. Modern technologies as simple as mobile applications can help power providers protect their workers, even as they serve their communities in the field.
Do you want to bolster worker safety at your utility? Connect with DataVoice. Power companies across the country trust our Crew and Manager mobile applications to facilitate smooth operations while also providing a safe working environment for linemen and other utility workers who regularly go out into the field. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how they can help you modernize your operations.