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May 25, 2016

Improve Workplace Safety With a Smartphone

Smartphones are everywhere today, and while many are used to launch digital birds, post selfies and rate potential suitors, smartphones are also becoming increasingly useful in the arena of workplace safety. Although many workplaces consider cell phone use a safety distraction, others are embracing the technology to promote and improve safety. In fact, smartphones and their associated apps may be the next great innovation in occupational health and safety. Here's a look at some of the ways smartphones are being used to improve workplace safety.

The Safety Voice

Lift with your legs not your backMasons have one of the highest rates of overexertion and back injuries. Research shows that the best way to prevent these injuries is ergonomics. Telling a person to lift with their legs is more than a simple platitude. It is an easy solution to a potentially life-changing tragedy. The safety voice system, known as SAVE, is a smartphone program that gives ergonomic training to workers and then reminds them of the key features on a periodic basis. According to preliminary testing, this simple, mobile-enabled system will reduce workplace injury and the associated employer costs.

Hygiene Monitoring

Combustible dust explosion hazard
There is an app for almost everything, including workplace hygiene and exposure. In combination with detection devices, nearly a quarter of health monitoring agencies use a smartphone or tablet to detect dangerous particulates and report locations of field testers back to a central operating facility. Since the newest smartphones are equipped with GPS and light sensors, this is a simple and cost effective way to keep employees safe while they are out of the office and in potentially hazardous places. Add to this reminders of hygiene protocols that can be delivered through the app and you have a stress-free way to maintain your company’s lifesaving hygiene procedures.

Ladder Safety

The NIOSH Ladder Safety app provides assistance with extension ladder and step ladder selection, safety and more. The app delivers a variety of ladder safety tools, information, reference materials, user-friendly guides and interactive tools to prevent major causes of falls, including:

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  • Angle Measuring Tool - Uses visual, sound, and vibration signals to make it easier for users to set an extension ladder at the proper angle (approximately 75 degrees) and check the verticality of extension and step ladders.
  • Selection Tool - Provides a procedure to select the minimum required ladder duty rating corresponding to user characteristics and task.
  • Inspection Tool - Includes a comprehensive checklist for ladder mechanical inspection.
  • Proper Use Tool - Presents a set of rules for safe ladder use in a user-friendly format.
  • Accessories Tool - Describes a number of available extension ladder safety accessories.

Safety Ads

sfety glasses, safety shoes, hard hats required
The same techniques that are used in marketing can be used to keep your staff in a safety frame of mind. Marketers use email and phone lists to blast information to potential and past customers. Using the same technology, a company can routinely send safety messages to employees. Systems can be programmed to automatically send a safety reminder that is specific to your employee and industry. For example, use a text blast to remind construction workers to wear their hard hats and gloves, or instruct teachers to wash their hands three times a day. These can be as simple as sending a slogan or sign image. Little cues can go a long way to maintaining a good safety record.

BYOD Security

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they can be a
money-saving and productivity-producing idea. On the other, they come with some real safety hazards. To keep both your employees and your company safe, make sure that every phone has a security program that is uniform across the whole company and accessible to the IT department. BYOD helps bring together workplace environments and home life. This constant amount of interaction is a safety procedure unto itself.

Social Media and Safety

Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter come with their own set of safety and security issues; however, when used thoughtfully, they can help keep workers integrated in the company’s culture and safe while out on the field. Some organizations set up closed social media groups that are available only to staff. Field workers use their smartphone to communicate through social groups in an organic manner, much like being in the home office. A lack of social media interaction becomes a red flag for employee safety.

Smartphones have quickly become useful tools for OH&S professionals, and you can expect many more workplace safety applications of this technology in the future.

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