For the past couple of years, statistics show that the number of people classed as field service representatives has been growing steadily. Data obtained from Health & Safety at Work shows that in 2018 there were as many as 8 million field service reps in the UK, representing 22% of the entire worker population.
All employers are responsible for creating working environments that help keep their employees safe, but organisations with field service employees such as emergency responders face special challenges. Since their jobs keep them regularly on the move or at remote locations, they are vulnerable in ways that employees who work in employer-monitored offices or other facilities are not.
This white paper takes a deep dive at field service reps and the unique risks they face.
Field Service Reps: Who Are They?
Field service reps are those who do not work in a fixed location and could, therefore, be at risk from various elements, including their environment, the public, and the tasks they are performing.
Some field service workers have a high risk from the general public; some have higher environmental risk. It all boils down to the nature of the job.
Here are four common field service industries:
Workers arrange for a home visit for their patients or supply medical equipment in homes
Field reps pick up ordered items and deliver them to customers
Telecom and utilities
Workers conduct routine maintenance work, manage infrastructure, repair damaged equipment, often in remote locations
HVAC, plumbing, and other building maintenance services
Employees respond to customer requests for work on buildings in diverse locations
Even with the best safety planning, there are many hazards on a remote job site, and accidents do happen. A key part of curbing accidents is simply aware of the potential hazards. Here’s a look at some of the most-common hazards field service reps face:
1. Working at Heights
The most common cause of field service injuries is working at raised heights. Out of the 111 workplace deaths reported in the UK over the past year, an astonishing 29 of them were height-related. Employees who work in plumbing, telecom, utilities, and other raised environments are particularly vulnerable to this type of risk.
Safely working above ground requires frequent inspections, approved harnesses, attachment points, and favourable weather conditions. Approved mobile scaffolding, fixed scaffolding, or a cherry picker can also help support a field service rep working at a raised location. Using a ladder can be a big mistake as this is typically intended for short-duration tasks only.
What’s more, anyone at a lofty height (at least 20 feet) can slip and fall or be hit by a falling body above them. Slip and fall are a leading cause of field accidents, with 37% of all reported field injuries in the UK resulting from tripping or slipping. This could include anything from tripping over cords to a computer falling on their foot.
Even when safety tools and solutions are put in place, falls can still occur. Even being a few feet off the ground is a hazard in itself.