The key to protecting staff and safeguarding against liability is actually quite simple. Implementing a managed workflow using mobile technology is a proven method of minimising the risk of non-compliance. Role-specific workflows can be followed via a user-friendly enterprise mobile application, which also frees people from the burden of paperwork. Not only can this reduce the risk of non-compliance, but it also provides a greater level of traceability with real-time information to demonstrate works have been carried out correctly.
A managed workflow on a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet can incorporate risk assessment procedures in a way which prevents fieldworkers from continuing before these are completed. A vehicle inspection is one example of this, whereby a start of day function instructs staff to carry out a risk assessment, before continuing their day’s work. Once completed the risk assessment information is passed back to central office systems in real-time. The same can be done for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and tool checks, making certain that fieldworkers are correctly kitted out to carry out their tasks safely.
Implementing a workflow management system enables businesses to closely control how fieldworkers follow processes, by programming a specific order of work so that a consistent sequence is adhered to across the workforce. Because a high proportion of UK adults own a smartphone (70 per cent according to Deloitte), there is also an opportunity to ensure sub-contractors adhere to the same workflow as the regular workforce. The company’s mobile app can be quickly uploaded on to their mobile devices at low cost, with all business information kept securely within the app. Using mobile technology, asset-specific appraisals or regular inspection processes (any compliance documentation can also be generated) can be implemented, empowering workers with information on their mobile device which enables them to be more efficient and effective.
With in-built GPS tracking, modern mobile devices can be harnessed to improve lone worker monitoring. A mobile app captures lone worker location using GPS and sends it back to the central server whilst they work. This also monitors movement using sensors to detect any unusual lack of activity which may indicate that something is wrong. If there is no movement, the device vibrates and the user can confirm that they are OK, with an option to press an SOS button to call for help. The launch of the first sim free smartwatch by Samsung adds another element to this capability and overall process compliance, because of the practicality of being attached to the fieldworker at all times.
Among many other things, mobile devices become an empowerment tool and digital information source, particularly in environments where paperwork would not be practical. To test knowledge in a fun way, some companies share quizzes and tool box tips via their mobile apps to the workforce. Minimising the potential for competency breaches and safeguarding staff begins with business processes. Ensuring these are consistent, that there is clear visibility of the mobile workforce and empowering staff with information are key to best practice.