November 29, 2017
Three apps to make your workplace safer
By Lee Wendel, CIA, CSP, CSPHA
SFM loss prevention technical leader
Would it surprise you to learn that the smartphone you use every day has the potential to help keep you and your employees safer?
Recent studies show that more than 75 percent of U.S. adults carry smartphones, and that number is getting higher every day. Today’s mobile devices are as powerful as they are ubiquitous, and mobile app developers are now harnessing that capacity to help users work and live more safely.
The idea of using a phone to make your life easier has already gained wide acceptance, but the idea of extending that to safety is still new for most people. The reality is that some commonly used apps are already helping users avoid danger, whether they realize it or not. One example comes from one of the phone’s most common tools, the weather information app. Properly configured, these apps can give you warnings in advance of dangerous conditions without even asking (via push notifications).
In addition to the more mainstream apps, we’ve begun to see a new breed of specialized releases that are designed to encourage safer practices. In the interest of making the world a safer place, the following apps are available free of charge to both Android and iPhone users.
Identifying heat-related risks
This summer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teamed up to release a new app called “OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool” .
This app uses your location to determine the risk of working outside both at the current time and hourly for the remainder of the day. The app also offers advice about how to avoid and treat heat stroke/heat exhaustion. Supervisors have found this to be a great tool to help keep workers out of harm’s way in hot conditions.
Demystifying ladder safety
Another helpful app from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health focuses on a frequently misunderstood source of danger — ladders.
The “NIOSH ladder safety” app gives users a way to understand and address some of the main root causes of ladder injuries/fatalities. Key features include:
- Level and angle meter — extension ladders need to be positioned at an angle of approximately 75 degrees, or one foot out for every 4 feet of rise. The app lets users measure this angle by holding the phone up to the ladder.
- Ladder selection guide — the type and height of work drives the type of ladder. The proper ladder can help prevent electrocution, for example.
- Ladder inspection guide — proper inspections differ by ladder type,
and must address specific elements essential to safe use.
Encouraging better ergonomics
One more tool that recently came to our attention is the "Office Ergonomics" app from EWI Works International.
This interactive guide facilitates a step-by-step ergonomic review of an office workstation. The app walks users through a decision tree that encourages them to address issues that can result in injuries over time.
While a self-service approach like this may not replace a professional workstation review, it’s a good way to highlight challenges before they become problematic.
As the number of mobile safety apps continues to grow, we encourage you to embrace your mobile device as a tool to make work a safer place.
You can find out more about these safety topics in other Simply Work Comp posts: