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Could smartphone apps be effective at improving workplace safety?

Considering how often we're reminded not to use our phones at work, it may come as a surprise that certain smartphone apps are actually welcome in the workplace. In fact, mobile apps were among the hottest topics at a recent conference for environmental, health and safety professionals. The topic was so important to the folks at the American Society of Safety Engineers that its national director of compliance programs performed an exhaustive review of what's currently available and published a list of the Top 10 most valuable safety apps:

  • OSHA Heat Safety Tool
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide (to hazardous chemicals)
  • NIOSH Ladder Safety
  • Fall Clear Lite
  • Electrical Safety Tests
  • ILO Ergonomic Checkpoints
  • I-Auditor
  • Incident Cost Calculator
  • AccuWeather
  • Pocket First Aid

Even if you're not a safety professional, these apps can provide you with a quick guide on how to handle workplace hazards safely. Working outdoors? Check out that OSHA Heat Safety Tool. If you notice a new chemical being used, for example, you could check the NIOSH Pocket Guide for MSDS information and first aid instructions. Unclear on whether the safety equipment you've been given will prevent you from a dangerous fall? Fall Clear Lite makes it easy to figure out.  

These apps might make a real difference. For example, many people don't realize the dangers of working out in the sun and heat -- even experienced North Carolinians. Not only that, but many indoor work environments, such as foundries, can expose workers to excessive heat. Whether you're used to the heat or not, OSHA says that thousands of people suffer from serious heat-related illnesses every year -- and some die.

An occupational illness or injury doesn't have to be the result of a physical accident to be covered by workers' compensation, and employers have the legal responsibility to provide reasonably safe work environments. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't take your safety into your own hands at work. Consider downloading some of these apps -- most of them are even free.

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Jay Gervasi, P.A.
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