14.04
2020

Weathering the Storm: Sanitation Management During the Pandemic

Sanitation companies tasked with cleaning contaminated areas are more essential than ever right now in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, with an increase in public health awareness comes an increase in workload for these kinds of businesses, which can be especially tough to manage if they don’t currently have a workforce management solution in place. Thankfully, our all-in-one platform, Encore, is able to help cleaning businesses effectively keep their operations under control, even amid a rapid acceleration in demand for their services. These key features of Encore all work together to help sanitation companies like yours work both smarter and safer during this time.

Job Dispatching

For decontamination jobs that require your teams to switch and attend to more severely affected areas on the fly, use Encore’s Job Dispatching feature. Plan out job schedules in advance for certain employees, and if more staff are required at a new, more important location to help disinfect it, easily reroute your personnel as needed to reduce fuel costs and accomplish more work in the same amount of time.

GPS Tracking

GPS Tracking allows your administrators to create extra levels of both transparency and accountability in your workforce, particularly when it comes to critical situations such as the current pandemic. Use this feature to see the locations of clocked-in mobile employees, company vehicles, and sanitation equipment to verify that the correct locations are being serviced, as well as to help ensure staff remain on-task. Monitoring the physical locations of your company’s service vehicles and cleaning tools also adds another layer of security over the valuable things your business needs to successfully run.

Wireless Forms

Track completed work efficiently and electronically with Wireless Forms. Using this feature, it’s easy to create digital versions of all your sanitation company’s documents, such as health checklists, cleaning records, and even billing forms. Form Workflows also allows your staff to pass incomplete documents off digitally from one worker’s device to verify that proper decontamination protocols are being followed. Plus, employees can help lower their risk of accidentally passing on any dangerous contagions using this feature, as they can work together to complete forms by only sending and receiving documents from their individually assigned mobile devices.

In today’s climate, good management is all about resource maximization. Let Encore help your sanitation company make the most of its materials, spend less, stay safer, and serve the public more powerfully.

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27.02
2020

How Tracking Monitors Speed and Helps Reduce Fuel Consumption

Every day, organizations of all sizes dispatch delivery trucks, service vehicles, vans, passenger cars, and large trucks onto the streets and highways with one goal in mind: Get there as fast (and safely) as possible.

This sense of urgency can sometimes cause drivers to hurry to jobs, often exceeding posted speed limits. The negative side effects of this behavior are fairly obvious: Excessive speeding is dangerous, burns fuel needlessly, adds risk, and increases the expense of overall fleet operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that excessive speeding decreases fuel economy by up to 20 percent. Even in a small fleet of just 25 vehicles, saving 20 percent of fuel costs each year per vehicle quickly makes an impact. So you can imagine the dramatic impact it can have on larger fleets.

GPS and wireless technology have evolved to the point where vehicle tracking and fleet management technology leverages data such as satellite maps, traffic, and posted speed limits (in near real-time) to help organizations communicate, increase efficiencies, and track data such as fuel consumption, fuel efficiency, vehicle speed, and maintenance schedules. Leveraging this data to improve operational efficiency reduces fuel consumption and saves businesses thousands of dollars a year.

Implementing Encore’s solutions encourages drivers to practice safer driving habits because any unsafe practices are indisputably recorded and they will be held accountable. Once employees know you are monitoring their driving, speed, and gas mileage, they tend to take greater care in how they use company vehicles. This improved behavior saves fuel, reduces unsafe driving, and enhances a company’s reputation with the public.

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12.02
2020

Your Vehicles Are Your Image

If you own a business and have a fleet of service vehicles, you know those vehicles are powerful moving advertisements. Once your logo and contact information is showcased, the vehicles are a direct representation of your company, and you as a business owner.

In the past, employers had no choice but to send their employees off each day and assume they would stick to the program. With today’s technology, Global Position Satellite (GPS) based systems can take care of the guesswork.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Are my employees safe drivers? It’s a fact: A monitored driver is a safer driver. Our solutions offer speed alerts which enable employers to keep tabs on driving habits. Alerts can also be set to let you know if your drivers have a habit of hard accelerating or braking, another sign of less-than-safe driving practices.

Are they sticking to the plan or route? Our vehicle-tracking software can help answer that question just by simply plugging one of our devices into a vehicle’s OBDII port (under the steering wheel). You can view a breadcrumb trail of your vehicle’s history, which helps for route optimization, an essential factor in lowering fuel consumption. An optimized route is a cheaper route!

You saw my vehicle where? Indeed, it has happened before. Imagine receiving a message from somebody one afternoon that one of your vehicles was spotted parked out front of a … questionable establishment. That’s not exactly the type of brand recognition you were going for when you plastered your business name and logo on your company’s fleet. This is where vehicle tracking, coupled with geofencing, comes in handy. Think of geofencing as an invisible fence that can protect your vehicles and your good name. If there is a specific zone or area you want your vehicle to stay in or out of, set it up and the software will alert you if those parameters are breached.

Your vehicles can speak volumes about your company; they can have a positive or negative impact, depending on the circumstances surrounding their drivers’ behaviors and locations. Don’t you want to make sure you’re sending the right message?

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17.01
2020

How to Establish a Team of Safe Fleet Drivers

We’ve talked about ways to help keep your drivers safe on the road when perilous winter conditions introduce hazardous obstacles. But what measures can you take to make sure your drivers know how to stay safe in general? After all, these are people you’re entrusting with your costly vehicles, and who are ostensibly serving as representatives of your company to anyone they drive past. Not to mention, there are lives at stake whenever they’re behind the wheel. There are a few steps you can take, before ever handing the keys of your vehicles over, to help make sure your drivers know what they’re doing.

Run a background check.
It goes without saying that you should always check to make sure a new driver has a valid license. But have you also looked into their past? Running a driving history check can give you further insight into their abilities. If a candidate’s past is checkered with a series of violations, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider bringing them on board.

Test them.
When considering onboarding a new driver, do you simply trust them based on their resumes? While a storied history in the trucking industry is a good indicator that they have the chops to drive for your company, it never hurts to present them with a written test to measure their actual knowledge of the rules of the road.

Buddy up!
Once you’ve decided to bring someone onto the team, consider pairing them with one of your more seasoned drivers, at least during a probationary period. This person will be able to help the newbie acclimate to a new vehicle, give them tips based on experience, and assure that they’re following best practices that both keep everyone safe and represent your company properly.

Create a driver safety policy.
Most businesses have some sort of employee handbook that lays out the rules of the workplace. In running a fleet-based operation, this handbook should include a driver safety policy. Present stipulations that reinforce the idea that all employees must adhere to the parameters of the law as a condition of employment, with no exceptions. Highlight the dangers of distracted driving, to include cell phone use, driving while fatigued, and even eating while on the move. Be sure to regularly revisit the policy, as incidents that arise over time may give you reasons to modify it.

Invest in GPS monitoring.
With Encore, our flagship mobile workforce managing software, administrators have the ability to monitor their employees from anywhere. You can receive alerts that give you insight into drivers’ safety practices, including speeding and hard accelerating/braking, actions that indicate unsafe practices are taking place. With these notifications, you’re able to make more informed decisions about your drivers, giving you the option to address situations before they get out of hand and someone is hurt.

Safe driving is one of the most important facets of any fleet. Without it, your reputation, your vehicles, and people’s lives are at risk. It’s your job to do everything you can to recruit the best drivers available. It’s ours to help make sure they continue to follow the rules.

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13.09
2019

Construction-Site Safety 101

It’s no secret that construction sites can be hazardous places to work. Typically, there is a lot going on and a ton of moving parts, all working together toward one end goal: a successfully executed project. Amid the seeming calamity, however, it’s important to keep a few tips in mind so that your crew is staying as safe as possible. Here, we lay out a few essential safety tips, as provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Provide easy access to first aid and medical care.
As we mentioned, construction sites tend to be risky territory where injuries are not all that uncommon. Help to mitigate the seriousness of any accidents by providing proper first aid on-site. If your site is not within reasonable proximity to a medical facility, be sure to have at least one person with valid first-aid training on-site at all times.

Supply all employees with protective gear.
If they need protective gear to do the job, it’s your responsibility to provide it. This includes helmets, gloves, goggles, breathing apparatus … anything an employee might require for the task at hand.

Maintain all fire protection equipment.
This might seem like basic knowledge, but one misstep can be the difference between a mishap and a disaster. Keep fire extinguishers full and abundant, and establish a fire preparedness program so your team knows what to do in the case of an incident.

Regularly remove debris.
Of course, it’s a construction site, so there are bound to be regular buildups of rubbish as work progresses. But it’s important to keep worksites clean and, when it comes to combustible debris, a safe means for regular removal must be provided.

Make sure scaffolding can bear the weight.
Don’t take any risks when it comes to scaffolding. This construction staple should be able to hold at least four times the maximum amount you intend for it to hold at any given time.

Implement a workflow tool.
It may not seem like it, but having the right workflow tool can be essential to operating a safer construction site. For example, using our Wireless Forms, which come with an optional Form Workflows feature, can help to make sure your team is staying on task as they take on various projects. With the ability to share forms between colleagues, you can mandate that workers have the proper signoff on each leg of any given project before moving on to the next step. This helps to prevent careless accidents from occurring due to mistakenly skipped steps along the way.

For even more helpful advice (as well as regulations), just head over to OSHA’s website. With the right tools in place — plus a little common sense — you can help make sure your construction site is as safe as possible.

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21.08
2019

Encore’s Capabilities During Mission-Critical Situations

When emergencies strike for a mobile workforce, the ability to retain connectivity is crucial. Organizations that are tasked with disaster recovery efforts in particular need ways to efficiently communicate more than ever when bandwidth is stretched thin and communication channels are limited. With the power of Encore, Actsoft’s premier solution, organizations can have an easier time directing their mobile employees, collecting data in the field, and restoring order during emergency situations.

Encore provides multiple ways for departments to send and receive data with their mobile employees through features like Wireless Forms, Job Dispatching, and Intra-Company Messaging; plus, the solution’s ability to operate over Wi-Fi and cellular networks alike gives your workforce the versatility it needs to stay in tune with itself during periods of connectivity shortage. Data collection is able to remain even more secure throughout the entire process with Encore Vault, our newest solution tier.

In addition to helping facilitate strong communication between the office and the field, Encore can provide your team with even more ways to increase its safety protocols through greater insight. Organizations in remediation services, the public sector, and waste collection can rely on our solution’s GPS Tracking functionality to see all aspects of their mobile workforces at once and keep their personnel safer through positional data that’s brought straight to their solution’s live view map. If an employee is injured on the job while performing work, their pinpointed location can be easily identified, allowing dispatchers to send out assistance to them quickly and efficiently.

Encore remains a valuable tool for organizations that are called upon during mission-critical situations because of its ability to enhance communication and visibility for their mobile workforces. With features for location monitoring, secure instant messaging, and versatile dispatching, your organization can be better prepared for the next emergency event and save time and money throughout the entire process.

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16.07
2019

Managing a Construction Worksite with Encore

In any construction operation, it’s critical for the office to know what’s happening at its project locations in near real-time. However, managing workforce safety, asset security, and employee accountability all at once can prove to be a difficult task for supervisors to maintain if the right solutions aren’t being used. Actsoft’s flagship application Encore enables construction companies to get the most out of their operations by helping them better protect their equipment, stay in OSHA compliance, and remain on track with building project timelines. Here are just a few of the useful features Encore can provide to companies looking to enhance the ways they manage their construction worksites:

Intra-Company Messaging

Build stronger communication channels between your managers and construction workers in the field by using Intra-Company Messaging to relay new information on the fly. Desktop-to-handset integration allows your administrators at the office to message multiple employees at once, saving time and resources. Past conversations can also be reviewed for reference if need be, and your team members can relay project statuses or any new materials requests back to the office using this powerful tool.

GPS Tracking and Geofences

Communication between headquartered administrators and your remote teams is certainly valuable, but our solution takes workforce insight a step further than just Intra-Company Messaging. With GPS Tracking and Geofences, you can draw specified digital boundaries around your building sites on Encore’s live view map, see employee and equipment locations, and be notified any time the perimeters are breached by tracked points of interest. Enhance the transparency of your workforce by using this tandem of tools to help ensure tasks are being completed and that employees are at their assigned locations during working hours.

Asset Recovery

Leave the heavy machinery your company needs in the field overnight and monitor it with Encore’s GPS-enabled technology. If one of your tracked assets becomes lost, you can see its position via the solution’s live view map and easily recover it. In addition to helping prevent expensive costs to replace stolen or misplaced equipment, you can use asset tracking to make sure that no tools are being used improperly after working hours have ceased for the day. Encore’s proficiency in improving workforce, asset, and fleet efficiency makes it a powerful companion for any construction business.

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01.02
2019

How to Prevent the Flu at Work

As you probably know, we’re right in the heart of flu season. Though it may seem like we’re a little late to the game here, with sub-Arctic temperatures making their way into the country and a polar vortex to reckon with, we thought it a good opportunity to review some of the best practices for fending off illnesses in the workplace.

When your workforce is largely mobile, there can be even more to worry about, as far as tracking germs and bacteria into the office. They may be interacting more with the general public, increasing their exposure to bugs that spread like wildfire, particularly when brought back to the confines of an office.

That being said, even though there’s a good chance you’re already doing these, if any aren’t already a part of your regimen — you know who you are — let this serve as a strongly encouraged reminder to do your part, since illnesses can bring productivity to a screeching halt.

Wash your hands.
You know the drill. If you use the bathroom, please wash your hands. (While you’re at it, it’s really a good idea to just go ahead and make this one a priority year round.) It doesn’t take long and every doorknob, conference room table, company vehicle, punch clock, and colleague/customer hand will be better off as a result.

Watch what you touch.
It’s basically second nature, and you’re probably doing it without realizing, but this time of year, do your best to avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth, and eyes. Consider these ports of entry into your body. Excessive touching essentially lays out a red carpet for germs and welcomes them in with fanfare.

Guard those sneezes.
If you feel a sneeze (or a cough, for that matter) coming on, turn your head away from anyone nearby and unleash into the relative safety of your elbow pit. If one sneaks up on you and your hands become a human sneeze guard, you know the drill: Wash your hands.

Clean up after yourself.
Have you been making a habit of cleaning up your desk on a regular basis? We’re not talking decluttering here. (Though that’s another excellent habit to increase productivity.) At least once a week, it’s a good idea to pick up some antibacterial cleaner and give your desk, keyboard, lamp, etc., a good wipe down.

Go home.
Coming down with an illness? Talk to your team leader (from a safe distance), pack up, and go home to get some rest. If you wake up sick, call to let your superior know, and then stay home. Keep your germs and/or viruses out of the office, away from customers, and just focus on feeling better.

Reach out to your doctor.
If your symptoms are beyond that of a common cold, persistent with no sign of slowing down, or you just need reassurance, it’s time to make a call to your doctor. That’s what they’re there for. Better to have official word from an expert so you can get yourself back on track as soon as possible.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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18.01
2019

5 Tips for Improving Employee Safety

When it comes to safety in the workplace, following a set of guidelines can be a surefire way to make sure your team is staying as safe as possible. Here, we list out a set of five top-level rules that will help keep your whole crew focused on doing their jobs properly.

Never take shortcuts.
In the race to get to the finish line, it may seem like the perfect solution is to skip a step here and there, if it gets you to the end faster, right? But there’s a problem when you take that approach: You may be able to push something off your plate a little faster and bask in the glory of some kudos at your impressive turnaround time, but at what cost? What impact might those skipped steps, small as they may seem, have on the project down the road? If we’re talking the construction world, even the slightest misstep can be a catalyst for a series of detrimental repercussions. Work quickly and efficiently, but be thorough.

Get enough sleep.
Not to sound like an overprotective parent, but: Are you staying up too late at night and heading to work on a half-empty tank? It’s not just that getting the proper amount of sleep is better for your overall health, but when you aren’t fully rested, you can’t think at full capacity, your reaction time slows down, and you become forgetful. All of these can easily lead to dangerous work situations, particularly out in the field. Moral of the story? There’s a simple solution: Get to bed at a decent hour.

Clean up after yourself.
We’re not talking about the clutter on your desk, here. (Though, as we’ve discussed previously, there are plenty of benefits there.) But when you’re dealing with industrial equipment, tools, or even just warehouse stock, it’s hazardous to yourself and others when things aren’t put where they should be. The last thing anyone wants is an injury because a machine wasn’t properly tended to, or boxes of inventory were haphazardly stacked in a rush.

Follow the rules.
This seems a bit obvious, but it warrants revisiting. If you’re working on a construction site and hardhats are required, wear them. If you’re constantly on the road, obey all the signs and signals. (Yes, even when the light’s yellow but you just know there’s plenty of time to make it through … Don’t.) There’s a reason these rules are in place, and it’s potentially costly and dangerous water to tread when you decide it’s okay to take them lightly.

Ask questions.
Drop all misconceptions about how it appears when you ask “too many” questions. Of course, when you work in a specific industry, there’s a certain level of knowledge you are expected to have. But if questions arise, and you’re truly confused about the proper course of actions for a task, go ahead and ask for clarification. It’s better to double check and do it the right way than to wing it and face possible issues that could have been avoided.

Just by following a few simple rules, you’ll find that not only will production run a lot smoother, regardless of your industry, but you’ll be faced with far fewer accidents in the workplace. The environment you provide for your staff will be significantly safer and, as a direct result, morale will be elevated.

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09.01
2019

Commercial Motor Vehicle Medical Certificates

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers have long had to comply with various safety precautions to ensure they’re alert on the road during long drives and amid poor driving conditions. One of these mandates is a clean bill of health.

The National Registry of Medical Examiners was created to reduce highway accidents according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Requiring CMV drivers to have up-to-date medical certificates is based on various reports, such as National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash investigations, which indicates that improper medical certification of CMV drivers with serious disqualifying medical conditions has directly contributed to fatal and injury crashes.

A school bus and truck collision in New Jersey illustrates the importance of certified medical examiners, according to the NTSB. The school bus driver involved in the crash received his medical certification in January 2012, before medical examiners were required to have training. The FMCSA had no regulatory authority over the examining doctor, there were no federal training or certification programs to ensure that examiners were familiar with the regulations, and there was no national registry of examiners. However, examiners were expected to exercise good medical judgment and carefully evaluate each person on whom they performed a physical examination (Herner, Smedvy, and Ysander 1966).

According to the investigation, in this case, the medical examiner, a chiropractor, never saw the school bus driver before and did not obtain medical records or consults from the driver’s primary care and specialist doctors. The extent to which the medical examiner verbally discussed the driver’s chronic low back pain and diagnosis of alcoholism (and alcohol abuse), which are underlying potentially disqualifying conditions, is not known. Moreover, it is unknown to what extent he discussed the prescription medications he was aware of, even though he wrote on the commercial driver’s license (CDL) form that they do not interfere with driving. Therefore, the NTSB concludes that the CDL medical examiner did not thoroughly evaluate the school bus driver for medical conditions that could have disqualified him from receiving a CDL. The NTSB also concludes that based on the school bus driver’s combination of medical conditions and use of multiple prescription medications, it is likely that he would not have been medically certified to drive a school bus if he had fully disclosed his medical history on the CDL medical certification.
While it’s impossible to know what a driver’s habits are on a daily basis, it’s crucial to put measures in place to ensure the safety of vehicles and passengers on roadways, as illustrated by the New Jersey crash.

Along with required medical examinations by now-certified medical examiners, as well as the newly passed Hours of Service legislation, there are other measures companies themselves can institute to ensure driver safety. GPS tracking has long been a popular tool to maintain watch of driver behavior — which would have been impossible pre-technology. Now, for pennies a day, fleet-based companies, or any business who uses drivers to deliver services or goods, can monitor a host of behaviors.

What can I monitor?

  • Driver speeds
  • Idling
  • Fast braking
  • Travel outside of authorized areas
  • Rapid acceleration

Each of these behaviors can be set up to alert managers and office personnel so that a driver can be notified that they are breaking a rule and must modify their behavior before an accident or other liability happens. Moreover, weekly or monthly reports can be created to get a snapshot of driver activity, to compare behavior from month-to-month or to compare drivers with each other.

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