Dogs on Customer Property: Keeping Technicians Safe

For thousands of years, domesticated dogs have essentially been members of the family, providing unconditional love and companionship like no other animal. Despite the historical significance of “man’s best friend,” dog behavior isn’t always predictable. Unfortunately, many utility workers have learned this the hard way over the years. Still, there are plenty of things utility companies can do to keep Rover at bay and their technicians safe while working. Here are a few essential ways to prepare your field technicians for working with a dog on the premises.

Preach dog awareness

Pet ownership has steadily been on the rise, climbing from 56% of households in 1988 to 70% in 2020, with dogs serving as the overwhelming favorite pet in the U.S. No matter how big or friendly a dog may seem, the reality is that technicians who work in pet-friendly homes face a potential risk of being bitten. Dogs are pack animals and may feel threatened by a stranger in their home or on their property.

Related: Encourage a Utility-wide Safety Culture

Because of this, technicians should be vigilant at all times. Train your technicians to watch out for dogs while working and to only enter a property with a dog when the dog is behind a secure gate or door.

Are dogs on the property? Find out in advance

Like other field service industries, customer communication is key for utilities. It’s important to communicate with the customer in advance for a number of reasons, including technician safety. Ask clients if they have a dog before you proceed to the worksite. That conversation can stop a customer from letting a dog out and into an area where the technician is working. Keep these notes in customers’ files for future reference.

Additionally, when scheduling an appointment or reminding a customer of an upcoming visit, don’t hesitate to ask the customer to have dogs placed inside a secure area until the technician’s work is complete. Keeping dogs and technicians apart is in the best interest of all parties involved.

Related: Best Practices for Remote Workforce Communication

Outfit technicians with the right tools

We suggest outfitting technicians with safe and reliable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE can be used to ensure the long-term safety of both the technician and the dog. For instance, many utility workers will carry dog barriers on their person when in the field. These devices create a visual distraction for the dog. They also can aid the technician in keeping a physical distance from an angry dog.

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Whether it’s the technician remaining vigilant and staying alert or knowing how to properly use their PPE, dog safety training is vital for utility workers. Safety is our number one priority at Utility Partners of America (UPA), and we’d love the chance to talk with you about keeping your utility workers safe. If you’d like to learn more about our services, including meter and inspection and maintenance services, contact us today.