“The GIS forms solution for the job briefing task has brought increased efficiency and transparency on this critical safety procedure. All forms are now tracked electronically, available for further analytics and accountability. It has also allowed engineering and other support services to check-in on a site after already reviewing the hazards and required PPE, which keeps a project flowing efficiently and safely.”
Communicating Safety with ArcGIS Field Maps
Owned by the community it serves, Owatonna Public Utilities (OPU) supplies electric, natural gas, and water service to approximately 10,000 customers in southern Minnesota. Safety is always a priority at OPU. One of the utility’s stated core values is safety for its employees and the community.
To help ensure a safe workplace, the utility’s staff always conduct job site safety briefings following standard industry practices. The time, date, and essential facts for each briefing were recorded on paper forms and kept in the supervisor’s truck. Unfortunately, paper safety forms presented several problems.
The forms were time-consuming to complete, and storage was always a problem. Furthermore, documents in a truck were only accessible to those on-site, and the information is difficult to communicate well to others in the organization. Any subsequent review of the safety information necessitated traveling to the job site, interrupting the supervisor, and potentially disrupting the work. As a result, OPU decided to transform the process to promote greater safety and transparency digitally.
Electric & Gas
Paper job site safety forms were difficult to store, manage, and communicate.
The safety committee observed increased consistency, accuracy, and timeliness of the information.
The utility uses ArcGIS Enterprise as a system of record for electric utility infrastructure. The organization determined to build on the success of their apps for system management, inspection, and design/staking to address safety in a new way.
The utility’s safety committee examined ways to improve the safety briefing process. The committee set goals to log all the relevant facts accurately and consistently without clumsy paper forms. Leveraging a digital approach, they planned to increase accessibility to the information while reducing jobsite interruptions dramatically.
OPU converted the paper safety form to ArcGIS Field Maps and configured the built-in smart forms for ease of use. Crew supervisors view the surrounding infrastructure and pertinent information in a single app as they record their safety briefings. On an iPad or cell phone, the app automatically captures the location and time of each briefing along with detailed information about the hazards. Details such as potential hazards, special work procedures, and personal protective equipment are included. The app is used equally well in the field or when referenced from the office.
ArcGIS Field Maps posts the safety briefing data in near real-time. It is immediately visible and accessible on dashboards across the enterprise. Managers and engineering staff readily see the location and details of each active worksite.
Implementing the safety briefing process with a mobile app made a safer and more much accessible procedure. The safety committee observed increased consistency, accuracy, and timeliness of the information. Crew supervisors appreciate the efficiency of communicating safety information electronically. Additionally, by eliminating interruptions and unnecessary visitors, they boosted their on-site productivity.
The seamless app for field staff improved the experience for engineering staff as well. Engineers now observe precisely which jobs are active, any hazards, and who is leading the crew on a daily basis. Engineers access this information without having to divert the supervisor’s attention from the work at hand. The safety briefing app was so successful in the electric division it was also implemented for gas and water crews as well.