Business continuity through COVID 19

by Richard Smith

February 2020 was much like any other month, except for news of a virus spreading throughout Asia and heading west. It wasn’t the first virus and would not probably be the last. I don’t think that anyone suspected that within four weeks the nation would be in lockdown, staff either working from home or on furlough.

Of course, there’s been a small cluster of industries that have been working on throughout the pandemic – we all clapped on Thursdays for the NHS, whose staff have fought off fatigue, illness and in some cases abuse in order to continue caring for our nation. There have been other industries that have “kept calm and carried on”, including utility workers and the logistics industry.

Yes, it has been challenging but there’s been a real tenacity from everyone to not only make sure that the country carries on, but also continues to operate safely.

Just before the initial lockdown we were approached to create some “COVID safe” statements and questions on our mobile checklists – these questions needed to be asked at the start of each day, signed off by the ganger and reported to the health and safety team if there were any ‘negative’ responses. These responses could be to identify a poorly member of the team, or to identify that the gang’s additional PPE was running low. As well as helping with housekeeping and ensuring everyone had plentiful PPE, the questions also served to remind the workforce to stop and consider their health and wellbeing at a time when our lives were being restricted and mental health awareness could so easily be pushed aside.

The flexibility and strength of our Works Management Systems shone through, and the additional questions were available in our test environment within hours of the request being made. There was no development needed to our core system – nor to our mobile app – due to the forward thinking of the team when our checklists module was being created. As part of the standard product our clients are able to specify the order of questions, the number of answers available and also how many were required to be selected, whether each answer required comments or a photograph (or both!), and photographs can be set to allow annotation too. For answers that require further action – emails and SMS messages can be sent to the relevant manager to inform them of the response (which starts the ball rolling on any investigations / orders or discussions).

By setting up the questions and responses in the test environment, wording and actions could be checked and tweaked without impacting teams working on site. Once the statements, questions and answers had been approved for use they were easily exported and imported to the live environment for real-life use.

These features, planned from the start to allow field based operatives to highlight areas of their site / vehicle / plant / team that they want to draw attention to, mean that if there is an urgent check that teams need to perform – instead of phoning each team and explaining the requirement – questions and answers can be created quickly and propagated to all devices.

The updated (or brand new, if that’s a more appropriate thing to do) checklists can be either sent immediately or left to be picked up as part of the routine checks when the team starts work each day.

Our checklists can be enforced at particular stages of the task (site arrival risk assessments, confirmation of site safety at the end of the day, installation validation questions), attached to an ‘Event’ (a utility strike, a delay in work, etc), activated if the team are driving a vehicle (daily vehicle checklists, vehicle breakdown), or at the start / end of each day (gang welfare, toolbox talks).

For more information on our mobile checklists, or if you’d like to know how we could help improve productivity please get in touch with us HERE.

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