The use of mobile phone applications in health and safety has started to become so much more common over the last few years, to an extent that many organizations utilising HSE software in general have begun enhancing the capabilities of their programs by developing the mobile phone side of these applications.
I have in this article decided to explore some of the free phone applications available to HSEQ professionals. Many of you may have different opinions and may even suggest better products out there that provide a better service. However, these are ones which I can truly say I have either used personally or know colleagues of mine who extensively use them.
I have tried to stay away of general HSEQ type applications which are associated to certain software and require the whole organization or certain departments to sign up. Rather, I have focused on the ones that are beneficial to the individual HSEQ practitioner.
All of these applications are free to use, although many of them do offer additional paid upgrade options. They are available for both Android and IOS:
I was told about this application a few years ago by my boss at the time, I soon downloaded it and have to say it has been ever present on my phone, and has stayed there through numerous phone changes and software upgrades.
The application acts as your little red HAZMAT book and contains up to date safety data sheets (SDS) for almost any chemical you could ever think of. As part of finalising COSHH assessments in my current role, I have to approve the use of various chemicals on a daily basis and often find myself going back to WISER to check for the hazards associated with certain toxic chemicals contained within these products.
2. Decibel X
Also one of the applications I have used for many years. I remember first downloading it to conduct a couple of office based noise assessments. A few of my colleagues were hesitant at the time as they were not too sure of the accuracy of performing such a task using a sound meter from a mobile phone, and opted to wait for the industrial decibel meter we had already purchased and were waiting for delivery.
When the device arrived, we decided to put the app to the test (using a TV screen in the training room!) and compare it to the results from the industrial decibel meter. The results were astonishing and I can honestly say when it came to an office setting, the application was spot on.
I would probably not advise using this in a more industrial setting provided the likelier higher frequencies of sound and possibility of interference from various process or machines. In indoor settings however, this works great!
3. Pocket First Aid and CPR
An application I really hope I do not have to use very often. It has been on my phone for the last year or so and I have gone back to it a few times when developing the emergency response section in work method statements.
The application basically gives you everything you need to know about general first aid, dealing with the various types of injuries and CPR.
The application also provides some great resources and background reading information that can support your efforts when developing your own first aid standards within your organization.
As an HSEQ professional, knowing weather conditions when monitoring certain outdoor activities is essential. Knowing the likelihood of weather conditions such as extreme heat, heavy rain, fog or strong winds is critical to performing jobs safety.
Based on the website with the same name, AccuWeather provides excellent weather data specific to the country or the city. It also provides data that allows health and safety professionals to have a better idea of risks presented as a result of weather conditions such as humidity levels, heat indexes and wind speeds.
There are probably a number of similar applications around that perform these functions but I have been an avid user of this one for a while and it has always provided good information when it comes to weather conditions.
5. OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool
This one in particular I have used for the last three years. I learnt about it after I attended a public workshop on how to manage heat stress at the work place organized by the Supreme committee for health in Doha, Qatar.
With summer temperatures in the middle east approaching 50 degrees Celsius at times, this applications provides a constant reminder of the importance of managing heat stress at the work facility and provides great awareness of symptoms, type of first aid required, suggestions on PPE and many more.
I have used this application on many occasions since to help me with developing heat stress procedures for the summer months in the middle east as well as developing emergency response and method statements for dealing with potential injuries or planning work conditions during these times.
6. iAuditor Checklist
This applications is one of the best inspection checklist creators I have ever come across, although it does take a bit of time to be able to used it smoothly. I started using this recently and it can be applied to any sector of industry and its function is not only limited to HSEQ uses. I need to highlight that this application does not provide you with templates unless you go for the in app purchases.
IAuditor allows you to create your own inspection templates very quickly and it has been mostly beneficial for me on occasions where I have reviewed a process for the first time and wanted to develop a method statement or a checklist that allowed me to create an inspection document on the go and while watching the activity.
A few weeks ago we had purchased a new state of the art hand truck device which allowed our personnel to lift up to 120 Kg very easily. I used the checklist to detail the steps, added the photos to each section and emailed it to myself. This allowed me to quickly come up with a safe process flow for the work being done when i returned back to the office.
Ergonomics is an app that offers office ergonomic equipment setup advice, a variety of workplace specific stretching exercises, and programmable reminders to help office workers time their breaks.
This started up as a free application when I downloaded this around a year ago but I believe this has now become a paid app and it is extremely popular. The app won the People’s Choice Award in the recent Worker Safety and Health App Challenge sponsored by OSHA and has the ability to get numerous workers, working in the same company or department for example, to compete with each other when it comes to performing the stretches, taking breaks and adjusting their postures and seating. Providing some friendly competition and banter in the office that can only be good for achieving better awareness of office ergonomics.
8. Gap Lone Worker
Although I have not used this app myself as I have never needed it as part of my operations, a number of contractors we have worked with swear by it.
GAP Lone Worker is a comprehensive lone worker safety, monitoring, and communication service that makes it easy to keep in touch with your workforce and addresses even the most rigorous lone worker legislative requirements. It is designed to enable more effective management and monitoring of employee safety.
The solution improves management control, eases the administration of workplace safety programs, and is an affordable means of improving communication with remote workers.
9. Occupational Health and Safety
Great application to keep you in know with the latest HSE news, changes in legislation, results of accident investigations and subsequent recommendations worldwide.
Generally tailored for the United States, I have used this application in the past to help me out with tool box talk topics and internal HSE news bulletins.
Safe driving, whether in the form of transportation of goods or personnel is a concern nearly every business is going to have. Changing driver behaviors is extremely difficult and requires an overall culture change through extensive training, coaching and in many cases, supervision and monitoring.
Everdrive has managed to come up with a way to ensure safe driving is achieved through friendly competition between a number of drivers. The application shows trip summaries, details on maneuvers and gives useful feedback on how to become a better driver. The safe driving app is easy to use because it automatically detects when driving starts and stops, and uses the phone’s sensors to measure driving performance.
Points are provided for persons who display the best safe driving behaviours. I have known a number of organizations that have used the app to incentivise the top performers, providing a positive reinforcement for safe driving.