A recent white paper on workplace safety from web-based management systems company Intelex concluded that smartphone technologies have the ability to improve occupational health and safety. The paper notes that strides towards zero injury goals have slowed with traditional methods and that, by adopting a mobile-driven approach to safety, businesses can “identify, reduce and prevent workplace hazards faster and at a greater scale.” This report come presents positive news for employers who may have previously viewed smartphones as, at best, a means of communication and, at worst, a distraction for employees. Here are five ways smartphones can improve workplace safety.
The smartphone camera is an essential tool in increasing workplace safety. Most phones come equipped with powerful cameras that have the ability to take detailed pictures and videos. Employers should encourage workers to use their phones to document potential hazards and unsafe workplace conditions. A photograph or video of a safety violation is much more effective than a written report that can be easily misinterpreted or downplayed. Likewise, employees should use the camera to capture best practices and methods to easily share with their coworkers or new hires. Finally, the slow motion video function, native on most smartphones, can be used to complete an ergonomic analysis of workers performing tasks.
For employees who travel or who work remotely, the smartphone is already an indispensible tool for functions like communication and navigation, but it can also help improve their safety. Employers should provide a phone with a long battery life to aid an employee lost or in danger. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S6 features 20 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby time. Additionally, when an employee is working alone, the GPS locator app that is included with most smartphones, is an essential fail-safe. Locator chips allow employers to access the location of employees in the field every few minutes or as needed.
Employees can use their smartphone to keep detailed notes of safety concerns, incidents and investigations. Most phones come with an app that will allow the user to take notes, integrate pictures and record voice memos. This kind of note-taking, combined with stronger phones that can be used even in the most hazardous locations, will result in a more thorough and permanent record of safety issues (no more lost papers or notes that are taken out of context or not dated).
A company's infrastructure and quality control is only as good as the records they keep. Help managers and supervisors meet the updated recordkeeping requirements of the OSHA regulation 29 CFR Part 1904. These products provide the information needed by workers at all levels to help a facility comply with OSHA's revised regulation, and allow an organization to quickly identify and eliminate repetitive hazard situations. This product includes two videotape/DVD training programs, OSHA Record keeping for Managers and Supervisors and OSHA Recordkeeping for Employees, that cover the details of the regulation's requirements, show actual workplace incidents demonstrating what each level of employee's responsibilities are in documenting and reporting recordable accidents, and review the information that they need to provide.
UPDATE TO OSHA RECORDKEEPING RULES - OSHA will now receive crucial reports of fatalities and severe work-related injuries and illnesses that will significantly enhance the agency’s ability to target our resources to save lives and prevent further injury and illness. This new data will enable the agency to identify the workplaces where workers are at the greatest risk and target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources accordingly.
When there is an incident that necessitates a meeting of employees at multiple sites, the video conferencing feature (e.g. Google Hangouts or Skype) will expedite the process. Video conferencing also adds a visual component to meetings that can aid in mutual understanding of the issues at hand.
There are hundreds of third party apps that will aid in workplace safety for everything from data collection to report generation to ongoing education in industry-specific practices. According to the Intelex white paper, encouraging employees to use these apps gives them real-time access to safety tools and promotes accountability and buy-in for overall workplace safety. Most employees, millennials in particular, are more engaged with safety practices when they are an active part of the process. Apps for data collection or completion of safety-related tasks make the process a fun and positive experience for employees.