In 2014, the production crew of the film Midnight Rider received permission to shoot at the Doctortown train trestle area in Georgia. Due to unsafe conditions and improper safety procedures, a train accident resulted in the death of 27-year-old camerawoman Sarah Jones and eight others being in injured, according to the Deadline Hollywood article “’Midnight Rider’ Crew Kept In Dark Over Safety, Federal Investigation Reveals.”
Jones’ father subsequently started a crowdfunding campaign to develop a mobile app that would allow film and TV crews to anonymously report unsafe work conditions before those conditions resulted in injury or death.
Safety apps are quickly becoming a mainstay in the workplace, from movie sets to construction zones, factories, school buildings, and healthcare facilities. Students earning a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety can expect to enter a field that is embracing the usefulness of mobile device technology.
Health And Safety Mobile Apps
At first, the presence of mobile devices at the workplace seemed to present more problems than solutions. A 2011 survey conducted by Harmon.ie revealed that 60 percent of work interruptions involved tools such as email, social media, and text messaging/instant messaging.
The same survey revealed that 45 percent of employees work only about 15 minutes in between such distractions. Findings like these prompted many businesses to restrict mobile device usage during work hours.
Fast forward to 2017, and mobile devices are not only acceptable in most workplaces, they are embraced thanks to applications designed to increase worker safety. The Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust offers a list of invaluable safety apps for mobile devices in the “Health And Safety Mobile Apps” section of its website, including:
- Lifting Equation Calculators – Takes into account a number of different variables and determines safe manual lifting weights in an effort to cut down on work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
- Chemical Hazards – Offers a complete reference for any and all chemical hazards along with links to important information, World Health Organization (WHO) documents, and Emergency Response Guides.
- Ladder Apps – Provides reference information for safe extension ladder angles, correct positioning information, and even fall alerts utilizing GPS and accelerometer technology.
- Heat Safety Tools – Uses heat indexes used to calculate risks for outdoor workers, allowing for alerts to be set up to remind workers to drink fluids, take breaks, and monitor other workers for signs of heat-related illness.
- OSHA Mobile – Lets workers check constantly to make sure that all OSHA standards and being followed and that the business is complying with regulations.
Metalphoto of Cincinnati lists several other useful apps in “15 Practical Workplace Safety Apps For Apple & Android:”
- First Aid Apps – Makes life-saving first aid information and tutorials accessible in a concise manner to help with workplace incidents.
- Noise Level Alerts – Identifies dangerous decibel levels, helping workers know when to use hearing protection while working.
- Fatigue Predictors – Uses mathematical models to weigh variables and determine whether a worker is in danger of suffering a fatigue-related incident.
- Safety Compass – Uses workplace conditions programmed into the compass, along with a location-based, augmented reality service, to warn workers of potentially hazardous conditions nearby.
- Incident Cost Calculators – Estimates costs associated with health and safety incidents in the workplace, based on sample and average information from a range of similar industries.
The Future Of Safety Technology
Continued development of augmented reality technologies, along with artificial intelligence programs, data analytics, and robotics, will make the workplace of the future both more efficient and safer for human beings.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing wearable, or Internet of Things (IoT), devices that will increase the safety level at workplaces where work-related safety incidents are common, according to tech writer Steven Max Patterson’s NetworkWorld.com article, “MIT IoT And Wearable Project Foretells The Future Of Industrial Safety.”
MIT’s prototype devices detect falls from distances high enough to cause serious injury or death, sense exposure to dangerous physical or chemical agents, and notify emergency personnel when a worker is down, even if the person is working alone. Respiration sensors, carbon monoxide detectors, combustible gas sensors, and air quality measurement devices are all built into a vest or jacket that can be worn by workers who may come across dangerous conditions.
Mobile safety apps are expected to become commonplace in the workplace of the future, and the number of safety incidents across the country will likely decline as a result.
About Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety Program
Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program helps students learn how to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards, infractions, and risks. Taught by industry-experienced safety professionals, the program is fully accredited and prepares graduates to become leaders in the field of occupational safety.