By Chris Mauldin, Senior Operations Manager.
The FAA has declared this week National Drone Safety Awareness Week and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how the Firmatek team focuses on safety in our everyday lives. This week’s focus provides a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of safety not just in the drone industry, but in all of the industries we work with. In our industries, safety is of paramount importance. We work in a lot of dangerous places and our team is on the road a lot. Drones are just one of the tools in our toolbox of equipment. Regardless of the type of equipment we are using, we are always reminded to follow GDOGS!
We introduced GDOGS to our team in 2017. It is a fun way for us to remember some of the top keys to safety. Instead of focusing this week specifically on drone safety, we are using this opportunity to remind our team, and hopefully inspire the drone industry, to think about safety in a broader context. In this post, we will walk through our 5 keys to safety: Get Home Safely, Don’t let technology distract, One task at a time, Gear up for safety, and Say what you see.
G: Get home safely
Our first priority at Firmatek is the safety of our technicians and others. Period. So when our Chief Operating Officer, Rob Wyssbrod, devised GDOGS, he made sure that at the top of the list is the all-encompassing statement: “Get home safely.” This is our ultimate goal for each of our employees every single day. A phrase you will often find me saying in company meetings is “I don’t care where you are, how busy you are, or what’s going on; if you are too tired to drive, get a hotel and sleep. We can deal with the logistical ramifications but couldn’t bear to lose one of our team members.” Everything we do, we do with the goal of getting home safely in mind.
D: Don’t let technology distract
One of the greatest hazards that we face at Firmatek is the amount of road time that our technicians see. With all of the media currently available via smart phone and other devices, you can imagine the problem that presents. Additionally, we work with several different pieces of hardware and software while on sites. It is vitally important to us that our focus not be taken away due to technology. For us at Firmatek, that means making sure that all calls are hands-free, loading any podcasts or audiobooks before a trip, or pulling over if looking at a phone is absolutely necessary. On site we have to know the best locations to fly, so we are out of the way while using our technology. Drones have been a blessing to us in this aspect, as a lot of the technology that we use on site can be very distracting. Not having to drive in hazardous areas to capture data has boosted our efficiency and increased our safety.
O: One task at a time
When you have as many different pieces of technology running simultaneously, as we do, it can be easy to let yourself get distracted with multi-tasking. According to Jessica Kleiman in Forbes, “It has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you’re not saving time; multitasking actually costs time. You also lose time because you often make mistakes.” In our industry, making a mistake could literally mean the difference between life and death. We take that seriously and stress the need to focus on one task at a time.
G: Gear up for safety
This one seems fairly obvious. If you work in aggregates or bulk materials, you need to make sure you have all of your personal protective equipment (PPE) in good condition and working order. But gearing up for safety is more than that. I really love what Chad Richardson, our team leader in the Midwest has to say about this: “The job starts days before you actually arrive on site.” Prepping yourself for site-specific obstacles, making sure your drone is updated & in working order, looking over site details, all factor into your safety on site. We certainly consider that part of gearing up for safety.
S: Say what you see
Finally, it’s critically important to say what you see. It does Firmatek no good as a company if somebody notes an unsafe practice, but keeps it to themselves. We want the lines of communication to be clear and open. If an employee or a client sees something unsafe (either onsite or an unsafe practice by us), we need to know about it so we can rectify the situation immediately. Firmatek has taken a proud stance and has lost business over our willingness to say no to unsafe practices. We will continue to take that stance because a safer work environment is better for all parties involved.
Safety isn’t just about Drones
Being a drone service provider in the industries we serve can put our team in some dangerous situations. It’s important to note that drones have made certain aspects of the job safer for our team. Safety around drones is important, but a focus on safety is around more than the piece of equipment. It takes a wholistic approach and an understanding of the situations the members of the team are walking into. GDOGS is one way Firmatek keeps these important safety factors top of mind for our team.