worker safety

Field Worker Safety: A Comprehensive Employer's Guide

Explore our comprehensive guide on field worker safety, covering risk assessments, legislation, policies, and strategies to protect employees.



Maintaining the safety of field workers is essential in the modern work setting, requiring employers to prioritize both regulatory compliance and the creation of a secure workplace. Field worker safety involves various practices, technologies, and strategies to protect employees working in different and often difficult settings, such as construction sites, remote oil rigs, and urban projects. 

These workers encounter unique risks, requiring employers to take proactive and thorough safety measures. This guide provides you with essential information and safety solutions to improve the safety of your field workers, covering common issues, best practices, and innovative solutions to lower risks and increase efficiency.

What is a field worker?

A field worker is an employee who performs their duties outside of a traditional office environment, often in varying and potentially hazardous locations. This broad category includes professionals such as construction workers, oil and gas workers, utilities workers, and emergency responders

The nature of their work requires them to adapt to diverse settings, from urban developments to remote wilderness, each presenting unique challenges and risks. Ensuring field worker safety is important, as these individuals are exposed to environmental elements, machinery, and situations that could compromise their health and well-being. 

The importance of field worker safety

Field worker safety is essential, not just to meet legal requirements but as a core duty of employers towards their employees. It's vital for maintaining wellbeing, productivity, morale, and operational success. Field workers encounter specific risks, including remote work locations, extreme weather, and the risk of accidents and health problems. Prioritizing their safety helps reduce workplace injuries and creates a safer work environment for everyone.

The National Safety Council estimated that workplace injuries cost employers $167 billion. This figure underscores the importance of focusing on safety, especially with the heightened risks associated with field work. Additionally, it's important to note that these numbers don't account for the intangible, yet significant, costs.

The consequences of neglecting field worker safety

Ignoring field worker safety can lead to serious problems for both employees and the organization. Without proper safety measures, field workers face a greater risk of accidents and injuries due to their often isolated work environments. This lack of immediate support can increase both physical dangers and mental stress, harming their overall well-being.

The National Safety Council estimates that work-related injuries lead to 103 million annual days lost. This figure doesn't include the additional impacts of poor field worker safety, such as decreased morale and engagement. Workers feeling unsafe often face stress, anxiety, and burnout, which lowers their productivity and increases absenteeism as they avoid dangerous work situations.

Additionally, neglecting field worker safety can cause higher turnover, with employees leaving for safer jobs. This not only disrupts field operations, but also damages the company's reputation, making it hard to attract and keep skilled workers. Job seekers, especially the most talented ones, prefer companies that care about their employees' safety.

Identifying and addressing field worker hazards and safety risks

It's important to address the safety and health risks for field workers, who deal with unique challenges in their job settings. These risks include a range of dangers affecting all field workers in various and often unpredictable environments. A thorough approach is needed to tackle the physical, environmental, psychological, and social risks they face. To address these challenges effectively, learn more about our lone worker app that offers real-time monitoring and emergency response features.

Field workers, whether working alone or in groups, face many hazards that can threaten their safety and health. These dangers are common in different work situations, like remote areas, long hours, or isolated spots. The main types of hazards for field workers include:

  • Violence and aggression: Field workers, particularly those in healthcare or construction, might encounter aggression from the public or trespassers. For example, 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults occur annually in healthcare settings.
  • Harassment and bullying: When field workers are performing their duties alone, with no witnesses around, it increases vulnerability to harassment and bullying, with no witnesses around, leading to significant emotional and psychological harm.
  • Extreme weather: Field workers are exposed to environmental challenges such as severe cold or heat, which can lead to health issues like hypothermia or heatstroke. In fact, fatalities due to exposure to extreme temperatures increased by 18.6 percent in 2022.
  • Rough terrain: Those in construction, agriculture, or oil and gas often navigate uneven or hazardous terrain, raising the likelihood of falls or accidents.
  • Hazardous materials: Field workers in certain sectors may face risks from exposure to dangerous chemicals or gases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exposure to harmful substances or environments increased 5.1 percent in 2022 and led to 839 worker fatalities.
  • Accidents and injuries: The spectrum of injuries field workers might suffer ranges from minor slips and falls (work-related fatalities due to slips, trips, and falls were the second most common category after transportation incidents)  to major incidents involving equipment.
  • Health emergencies: Being alone increases the danger of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks or severe allergic reactions, due to possible delays in assistance.
  • Mental health: The isolation inherent in field work can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression, potentially going unnoticed until they escalate. A study by CV-library revealed that more than 42% of surveyed employees think that the isolation and loneliness from working alone can negatively affect their mental health.
  • Limited communication: Field work isolation can lead to weak or no communication options, making it difficult for workers to seek help, report dangers, or keep in touch with their team. This can cause delays in emergency help and lessen support in urgent situations.

Focusing on these areas can significantly enhance field worker safety, ensuring their team is protected, connected, and supported regardless of their work location.

Strategies for mitigating risks and ensuring field worker safety

Ensuring the safety of field workers, who often face unique and varied risks due to their remote or isolated work environments, requires a comprehensive and proactive management approach. Here are key strategies for mitigating risks and safeguarding field worker safety:

  • Risk assessments: Conduct thorough and regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards specific to field work. Tailor the assessments to different locations and types of work.
  • Safety training: Provide comprehensive safety training for all field workers, including how to recognize hazards, use personal protective equipment (PPE), and respond to emergencies. However, field workers often face challenges in accessing this training due to their demanding job schedules, which include irregular hours and extensive travel, along with the physical nature of their work. These factors can also lead to fatigue and burnout. As a result, safety training needs to be continuous and flexible, designed to fit the changing needs and job roles of field workers.
  • Emergency response plans: Develop and communicate clear emergency response plans. Field workers should know who to contact in an emergency, how to report incidents, and what steps to follow to ensure their safety.
  • PPE: Ensure field workers have access to and are trained to use the appropriate PPE for their specific tasks and environments. This may vary significantly across different job sites and roles.
  • Mental health support: Provide support for the mental health of field workers, recognizing the psychological risks of isolated work. This can include access to counseling services, mental health days, and resources to help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Safety policies and culture: Foster a culture of safety within the organization by developing clear safety policies and encouraging open communication about risks and incidents. Leadership should actively promote safety as a priority.
  • Technology and innovation: Leverage technology like SafetyAware to enhance safety, such as GPS tracking for real-time location monitoring, and systems for automatic alerting in case of falls or accidents.
  • Regular reviews and feedback: Regularly review safety procedures and policies, incorporating feedback from field workers to improve and adapt strategies as needed. Engage workers in safety discussions to ensure their experiences and suggestions are considered.

Implementing field worker risk assessments

Performing risk assessments for field worker safety is a critical but often neglected duty for employers, vital for safeguarding workers against work-related hazards. This responsibility is about ensuring the safety and security of employees. A straightforward, organized approach is essential for effective risk assessment:

  • Identify the hazards: Start by identifying the risks field workers might face, including physical dangers from machinery, environmental hazards like extreme weather or harmful substances, and social risks such as potential violence. Recognizing all possible dangers is the first step in reducing them.
  • Assess the level of risk: Once hazards are identified, determine how likely they are to happen and their potential severity. This evaluation helps decide which hazards need urgent attention and which can be dealt with later, focusing efforts on the most critical risks to field worker safety.
  • Implement mitigation measures: After prioritizing the risks, take steps to lessen or remove these hazards.

Field worker safety is a continuous effort that needs regular updates and adjustments as work conditions and challenges evolve. This approach not only keeps employees safe but also fosters a safety culture. 

Want to create your own risk assessment? Check out our free lone worker risk assessment template:

Navigating field worker regulations: OSHA

Understanding and following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations is crucial for field worker safety and meeting federal standards. For field workers, who often find themselves working alone or in isolated environments, understanding and adhering to specific regulations is crucial for their safety. Employers have a responsibility to protect these lone workers from potential hazards and ensure a safe working environment, guided by key OSHA regulations.

OSHA Section 5(a)(1): General duty clause

This clause requires employers to:

  • Provide a work environment free from recognized hazards that could cause serious harm or death.
  • Adhere to the safety and health standards set forth by OSHA.

For lone workers, compliance involves maintaining open lines of communication, establishing easy-to-use reporting systems, and continuously updating risk assessments and safety policies to address new and changing hazards.

OSHA 1915.84: Working alone

This regulation outlines the employer's duty to keep track of employees working alone, such as in confined spaces or isolated locations. Employers must:

  • Check on each lone worker at regular intervals during the shift to ensure their safety and health.
  • Ensure that at the end of each work assignment or shift, the well-being of the employee is confirmed.
  • Maintain a method of accounting for each employee, either by sight or verbal communication.

To comply with this, employers should set up regular check-ins, create detailed safety policies, and implement safety solutions tailored to the needs of lone workers.

OSHA 1904: Recordkeeping requirements

In addition to the above, OSHA's recordkeeping requirements play a crucial role in lone worker safety. Employers are obligated to:

  • Document and maintain records of all work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
  • Ensure that these records are accurate, comprehensive, and accessible for inspection.

This is essential for identifying patterns in workplace incidents and implementing preventive measures to enhance field worker safety. It also aids in evaluating the effectiveness of existing safety protocols and identifying areas for improvement.

Employers must take proactive steps to ensure the safety of field workers operating alone. By doing so, employers not only comply with OSHA regulations but also create a safer, more secure work environment for their lone employees.

What to look for in a field worker safety solution

Today's employers require a strong and all-encompassing safety solution, particularly for field workers who often operate alone or in distant locations. Finding the right solution for fieldwork is tough, as not all options on the market cover the essential features needed for effective field worker safety.

Choosing the right safety software means understanding the specific needs of lone and remote workers, protecting their safety while maintaining their privacy. It's crucial to focus on features and capabilities that directly address the challenges field workers face, aiming to improve both their safety and efficiency. Key features to consider are:

  • Real-time location monitoring: Enables employers to know where their field workers are, allowing for quick responses in emergencies.
  • SOS alerting: Allows workers to quickly signal for help in distress, ensuring prompt assistance.
  • Two-way communication: Keeps field workers connected with their team or dispatch center, which is crucial in dangerous situations.
  • Fall detection: Wearable tech that can notify supervisors automatically if a worker has an accident.
  • Satellite communication: Ensures workers in areas with poor cell coverage can still communicate and receive vital information.
  • User-friendly interface: Makes it easy for all workers to use the system effectively with minimal training.
  • Privacy considerations: Balances safety monitoring with respect for workers' privacy, including data use and consent policies.
  • Scalability and customization: Can be adapted to fit the specific needs of different industries and workforce sizes.
  • Comprehensive support and training: Ensures that the organization and its workers can fully benefit from the safety system with ongoing support and training.

Focusing on these features will greatly improve the safety and security of field workers, showing a commitment to their health and potentially saving lives. Aware360 offers a range of safety solutions and tools that meet these criteria, powered by the PeopleIoT™ platform, to keep field workers safe, connected, and supported wherever they are.

Partner with Aware360: Your field worker safety solution

Choosing Aware360 for your field worker safety needs provides your organization with cutting-edge technology focused on protecting your employees in any setting. Our complete range of solutions and services delivers a range of capabilities that will improve your field operation and worker safety significantly.

Aware360 provides a tailored, all-encompassing solution that simplifies field worker safety, offering peace of mind and control for both you and your employees. Our focus on innovation, dependability, and customer support gives you the resources and knowledge needed to keep a safe work environment, meet regulatory standards, and boost efficiency.

Don't wait for an accident to realize the value of field worker safety. Get in touch with us and see how our solutions can keep your workers safe, connected, and secure at all times. Together, we can ensure a safer future for your team.

Meet with our experts and learn how we can support your organization’s safety culture

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