Your smartphone most likely has an app for anything you can imagine these days. But what about a safety app that can give you instant information regarding the safety of your factory and workers? OSHA guidelines? Due to the fast-paced world we live in, you don’t always have time to browse for information on your desktop or laptop computer. So, these downloadable safety apps are just what you may need.
NIOSH Chemical Hazards
If you’re handling industrial dust or welding fumes, chemical hazards are something you might need to look up information about in a hurry. Many chemicals are especially dangerous in fume, smoke, or dust form, when they can be inhaled.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has decided to put all its handy information about chemical hazards at your fingertips. They have a mobile app, just in case you need to know RIGHT NOW.
The safety app can be downloaded here: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/mobilepocketguide.html. Here’s what you get:
For any of 634 chemicals, you can find useful information, including important things like:
- Physical description
- Upper and lower explosion limit
- Exposure routes and symptoms
- Recommended PPE
- First Aid treatments
If you’ve always wanted to have the NIOSH Chemical Hazards data on your phone, now you can! And even if you’ve NEVER wanted to have the NIOSH Chemical Hazards data on your phone, this resource is handy. And if nothing else, it probably makes great late-night reading if you’re having trouble falling asleep…
Noise Level Measurement Safety Apps
While you won’t get scientifically precise decibel measurements with your smartphone, there are many apps available that can give you a reasonably accurate idea of whether the noise level is high enough to damage hearing.
Scientists tested a number of apps, including Decibel Meter Pro, iSPL Pro, Sound Level Meter, and Noise Hunter ( J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 135, EL186 (2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4865269). Their results indicated that apps can provide reliable measurements of noise levels, although at the time of testing in 2014 Android lagged behind iOS in audio quality and consistency (this has probably improved for both types of devices since that time, since my phone from six months ago is now an antique).
A safety app like this isn’t just useful for workplace measurements. How often are you exposed to potentially hearing-damaging noise at home or in the community? Maybe you’re at a sports event, or maybe you’re mowing your lawn. Maybe you just want to show your teenage daughter how loud her music actually is (and yes, I am going home to try that). Because we stop noticing how loud our environment is after we adjust to it, having an app on your phone that can tell you if you’re in the danger zone might not be a bad idea.
OSHA’s Heat Safety App Tool
With plenty of unpleasantly hot days left to come before cool weather arrives (or if you live somewhere that doesn’t get cool weather), OSHA’s little heat safety app, available in English or Spanish, calculates the heat index, which is a much better measurement of heat danger than just the temperature and assigns a risk level based on OSHA’s categories:
Less than 91 degrees F: LOWER, use reasonable safety measures
91 to 103 degrees F: MODERATE, use precautions and increase awareness
103 to 115 degrees F: HIGH, more safety precautions needed
Greater than 115 degrees F: VERY HIGH, aggressive worker protection measures
The app (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html) will offer reminders for workers to drink fluids, schedule rest breaks, and keep an eye on each other for signs of trouble. While it’s not the most exciting app in the world, it should be kept in mind that people die every summer from heat exposure, and we don’t always remember to take precautions, so it never hurts to have a reminder.