Field service is fraught with perils that office workers just don’t face on a daily basis. And then there are extreme field service jobs that require pros to climb to towering heights and fix dangerous equipment like wind turbines and oil rigs. What does it take to do what’s been called the most dangerous job in America? Here’s a look at the sometimes risky business of field service, and other news from around the Web this week:
Extreme Field Service: Cell Tower Techs
One of the most dangerous (and deadly) jobs in America is an extreme form of field service. According to a report by ProPublica and Frontline, cell tower technician is one of the riskiest careers in the country. And it’s performed by about 10,000 technicians across the U.S., many of whom are subcontractors hired by wireless carriers or tower owners to service the infrastructure that powers America’s mobile use.
In the past, this work — and liability when something went wrong — went largely unregulated. But that’s about to change. In response to recent deadly accidents involving cell towers, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is closing loopholes in how employers report accidents and how blame gets assigned, according to Pacific Standard.
Read more at Pacific Standard
Security Bug Delays Canadian Tax E-Filing; IRS Still Investigating
In response to the so-called “Heartbleed” security bug, a vulnerability discovered this week in a common security protocol used by an estimated two-thirds of Internet, the Canada Revenue Agency has effectively stopped people from e-filing tax documents ahead of the country’s April 30 deadline.
What does this mean for field service owners who have yet to file taxes? According to Forbes, the Canadian government is expected to grant an extension depending on how long it takes to shore up its system. So far, there’s no effect for American companies. The Internal Revenue Service is investigating the bug but hasn’t found any vulnerabilities. That means the U.S. Tax Day deadline (Tuesday, April 15) stands.
Read more at Forbes
The Perils of Texting While Walking
Texting while driving is dangerous — so much so that it’s illegal in 41 states. But mobile field techs be warned: new research suggests that texting while walking could be even more distracting. “When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking,” Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo, tells Mobile Enterprise. “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”
A Stony Brook University study suggests just how bad humans are at multitasking while walking: 61 percent of people walked off course while using their phones and 13 percent missed their destination. The next time you’re tempted to sneak in a text while walking on the job, consider the potentially humiliating (or dangerous) consequences.
Read more at Mobile Enterprise
Back to School for Oil and Gas Techs?
Technical and trade schools, long the traditional route to employment in field service, could get an overhaul. That is, if a trend toward employer-built training programs in the oil and gas industry catches on. Employers are creating formal, hands-on training schools as part of their efforts to find technicians with the right mix of skills. Nowadays, oil and gas techs must have software and computer know-how, in addition to the mechanical skills. National Oilwell Varco (NOV), a company that designs and makes oil and gas drilling equipment, has launched several training schools around the country. “When we looked around several years ago, trying to fill jobs one at a time, we recognized we just weren’t getting the progress we needed, so we opened our first technical college,” NOV CEO Clay Williams tells CNBC.
The training lasts six to 12 months, and graduates are paired with senior technicians for additional training before they’re turned loose to design and build oil derricks. Technicians can early $60,000 per year plus benefits while in training, and must sign an agreement to work with the company for three years following graduation. Those who don’t must reimburse NOV for the cost of training, which averages about $70,000.
Read more at CNBC