Monday, February 7, 2011

Are there any great OH&S apps?

We are living in a time when digital information is literally at your fingertips. In the case of the WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, it has made the leap to an iPod/iPhone app. Seeing how well that works on my iTouch, it got me thinking about other apps that might be good to have at my fingertips.

You will find a lot of apps out there that range from a simple app that generates a white screen, (works really well as substitute flash light), to one that provides the complete US Army Survival Guide. There are also a lot of simple utilities that can provide a ready and useful source of information, when access to the internet or print material is not readily available.

A good companion item might be American Heart Association's Pocket First Aid & CPR. It has a price tag of $3.99, but it's a good reference document with an efficient interface to get the information you need in a hurry.

I was impressed with the idea behind Safety Button from Sillens AB. The app presents a single red HELP button that can be preprogrammed to text and or email your current position, make a distress call, and sound an alarm. You hope never to have to use the messaging part of the app. Chances are, however, there will be times when you want to initialize the app and have it ready. As soon as you turn it on, your GPS location is tracked by the application and updated to their server every 20 seconds, creating a record of time and location. The inexpensive app comes with three prepaid text messages: one for testing, and two just in case, with refills for the messaging part available for a nominal fee. There is no ongoing subscription required.

The YWCA apparently offers a free app that has some of the same functionality. This operates more like the portable personal siren alarms you may have seen marketed primarily to women. This one, however, comes with a feature that sends an emergency email to a pre-set contact, with the user's approximate coordinates. It can also send out an emergency call to a pre-programmed phone number. The YWCA Safety Siren comes with facts and contacts for women’s health and wellness.

I’m certain there many of you have found workplace health and safety apps for your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Blackberry, Android, Galaxy… that are really useful. I am equally certain there are applications you would like to see created to fill a particular occupational safety and health need, (for example, I would like to see an app that allows you to decipher the meaning of a warning symbol just by pointing your device’s camera at it). If you have an OH&S app or an idea for one you would like to see, post a comment and maybe we can make workplaces safer one app at a time!

1 comment:

B.Quirke said...

Dreaming a bit here, but I’d like to see apps that could assist with hygiene and exposure assessments.

Physical exposures may be a place to start as a number already exist for noise. Kardous & Shaw (2014) conducted a review of the accuracy of smartphone sound measurement apps. Very few of the hundreds of apps met study criteria, however two or three were noted as potential for use in an occupational setting as they met national standards.

But what about chemical or biological exposures? What if we could replace the costly, and often cumbersome, direct and indirect measurement tools with an attachment to a smartphone (such as the credit card scanning-cube). Testing for acute hazards such as H2S or CO come first to mind w/ comparison to exposure limits. But chronic acters could be very useful as well i.e. silica dust, diesel exhaust or various heavy metals.