Of the many hazards that modern field service technicians encounter, the open road is perhaps the most treacherous. Transportation accidents accounted for more than 40 percent of all workplace fatalities recorded in 2016, the latest year for which data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is available. In all, incidents of this kind have claimed the lives of almost 12,000 U.S. workers since 2011, the BLS found.
With so much time spent navigating between jobs, field service professionals are certainly at risk of getting into accidents. Your organization must do all it can to protect its technicians, as failing to do so comes with serious consequences to your reputation, operations and bottom line.
You can bolster your roadway safety policies by developing and implementing robust vehicle inspection processes. This is, of course, easier said than done. The average vehicle contains dozens of critical components, which makes the prospect of assembling some kind of workable checklist pretty daunting. But you can make headway by rolling out vehicle safety inspection policies centered on the following best practices.
Some parts of your service vehicle are more important to occupant safety than others. Focus on protecting and maintaining mission-critical components such as braking systems, engines, lights and tires. These should always be subject to regular assessment and optimization. That said, don't overlook the seemingly little stuff. Windshield wipers, for example, play an obviously important part in occupant safety and should also be included in any vehicle review activities.
"Transportation accidents accounted for more than 40 percent of all workplace fatalities recorded in 2016."
Driver training programs are critical to roadway safety, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The most effective curricula of this kind cover essential subject areas such as defensive driving, but today's workplace driving initiatives also touch on more modern concerns – most notably, the dangers of distracted driving. Thousands of people die in vehicle accidents caused by driver distraction every year, analysts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Since most field service technicians use at least one work device, training on this matter is of the utmost importance. Before sending staff out into the field, you should ensure that they know exactly what is expected of them when they are on the road.
Even when technicians perform their mandatory inspections and follow their safety training perfectly, accidents can still happen. As such, it is critical that you equip employees with the tools they might need should an emergency occur out on the road. Technicians driving in winter weather, for example, are at risk of getting stranded, an immensely dangerous situation that can cost lives in certain conditions. You can reduce the likelihood of such a dire outcome by making sure all fleet vehicles are stocked with proper emergency equipment, including blankets, food, flares, medication and water.
In the end, you can make great strides in occupant safety by adopting these vehicle safety best practices. This work keeps your service teams safe and mitigates the financial and operational risks that come with sending unvetted vehicles out into the field.