Ironically, as many workers went fully-remote, on-site support became more necessary than ever to make remote work possible. As guidance on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we’ve compiled the latest advice to help service providers understand what it takes to keep their employees, subcontractors, and on-demand technicians safe on-site.
Here are the top 8 ways Field Nation customers keep technicians safe when conducting work on-site:
1. Schedule work orders during off-hours
Work with your end-clients to schedule work orders when sites are not heavily populated. If the site is a retail location, for example, try setting work order windows for before and/or after store hours. Even if some staff remain, a technician should reasonably be able to maintain 6 feet of space away from other people. This might not be possible when stores, especially superstores and grocery stores, are open for business.
2. Be clear about project details
Technicians are interested in very different information regarding work sites than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. Try to set reasonable expectations for what technicians can expect on-site, and be specific about the location type. Try to answer the following questions when handing off a project:
- Could a technician reasonably expect to practice social distancing while on-site, staying 6 feet away from other people?
- Will technicians have access to a restroom to wash their hands? If not, will they have access to hand sanitizer?
- If your work order is at a retail location, is the work order time scheduled during hours when the store is closed?
- Is the work order at a location where COVID-19 exposure is more likely than average, like a hospital?
- Will a technician be provided proper PPE, or are they expected to provide their own?
- How many people may they come into contact with?
Reducing uncertainty by adding these details can help your employees feel safer and more informed. If you’re using subcontractors or on-demand labor, providing this information may make the project more likely to get filled.
3. Give technicians access to the right sanitation supplies
Many businesses and technicians alike have struggled to find sanitization methods and disinfectants that are safe for electronics like touch screens and keypads. The best way to avoid damage from disinfectants is to supply your own cleaners for the technology being serviced. If you’re unable to provide disinfectant for on-site technicians, it’s still helpful to describe what types of cleaners are compatible or incompatible with the technology being serviced in the Scope of Work
4. Add PPE to scope of work or provide PPE
If you are requiring a technician to wear PPE on-site (face mask, face shield, etc.), you should explicitly list these items in the scope of work. Make sure your directions are clear, and mention if there are repercussions if technicians don’t follow state or federal health and safety mandates.
Please keep in mind that the cost of PPE adds up for technicians. CDC guidelines now suggest double masking — wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask — in light of new COVID strains. The cloth mask may be reused, but the medical procedure mask is likely single-use only, therefore increasing the cost for technicians to procure masks themselves to complete on-site service projects.
Beyond masks, other types of PPE can also be considered, such as face shields, gloves, goggles, and gowns. In a summary of OSHA guidelines, it’s stated that all types of PPE must be:
- Selected based upon the hazard to the worker
- Properly fitted
- Consistently and properly worn when required
- Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced as necessary
- Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of, as applicable
If you do choose to purchase PPE, beware of fraudulent masks and respirators, which have become more prevalent during the pandemic.
5. Don’t require signatures, get photos instead
You may often require a signature to ensure work has been completed to your clients’ satisfaction. Consider requiring a photo instead. Signatures require managers to touch technicians’ phones, which can spread germs and is contradictory to social distancing guidelines. If you request a photo instead, you’ll still have documentation that the technician completed their assignment — and no one else will have to touch their phone.
6. Alert technicians to known COVID-19 cases on site
If the location of a project has known COVID-19 cases, note this in the project details before a tech goes on-site.
Pay special attention to work orders in healthcare facilities, long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories, public housing, and prisons – all of which are prone to high rates of infection.
7. Provide vaccination information and resources
Now that the U.S. has authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19, technicians can choose to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. To find out when vaccines will be available for specific priority groups, they can review vaccine information for their state.
Also, the CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine.
8. Be compassionate and flexible
If a technician removes themself from a project due to illness or health concerns — don’t panic. Thank the technician for doing the right thing by not going on-site while ill. If you have any concerns about filling the work internally, reach out to an on-demand labor platform like Field Nation to find skilled technicians across the U.S. and Canada.