Best Apps for the Safety Professional

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So, everybody's got a smartphone or a tablet, right? If not, what are you waiting for? That little communication device sitting in your hand is no longer just for talking. Gone are the days when you could say the best thing about your phone is that it is rugged enough for your job or it has 'push to talk'. Now, that device is still your phone, but it's also your camera, your calculator, your quick reference guide, your email, your weather report, your tape measure, your translator, and your rolodex (remember those?). It can be a rough decibel meter, a level, a compass, a voice recorder, and a document scanner. It all depends on how you use it.

Not too long ago, it would have been a struggle to find a small handful of useful, well-designed apps for a safety professional, but today it would be impossible to write an exhaustive list. Here, I've compiled some of the apps I've found to be useful. Where possible, I indicate on which platforms they are available and their price, but being an Apple product guy, I couldn't always check their availability elsewhere. However, if the specific app I list is not available, there's a good chance there is a similar app available.

PRODUCTIVITY

Docusign (Apple and Android)
You may not think of this as a safety app, but Docusign and similar apps can be invaluable to a safety professional. How often do you find yourself trying to print out a document to get the signature of somebody in a position of authority to sign off on your findings or a scanner to send that document back to you? Why carry around pieces of paper any more in the first place? Open the documents in Docusign, Sign-n-Send, or a similar app, have the person sign with a stylus or their finger, and save it as a PDF file. You can immediately mail it to all interested parties.

Dropbox (Apple and Android)
For similar reasons, no safety professional should go without Dropbox or another similar cloud storage app. Audits can become huge files once you start adding in all your pictures. Why struggle to get it to send over email or deal in print copies? Just for the sheer number of different forms safety professionals need to deal with, apps like Dropbox are priceless.

RESOURCES and REFERENCE

Weather
Some important apps probably came built into your phone, such as a weather app. While iPhone has its Weather app, I prefer Accuweather, and I'm sure every other person you ask will have a different opinion. The point is, if you work in construction or some other industry affected by the weather, use the app. In this day and age, with text alerts and accessible weather maps, there's almost no reason to ever be caught off guard by a thunderstorm, a heat wave, or the deathly chill of a polar vortex (sorry, bitterly cold Northeasterner here). Know when the rain is coming, when the snow is coming, and plan for it.

ERG (Apple and Android)
It's the little yellow book we've all come to know and love. You can now have all of the information found in DOT's Emergency Response Guide at your fingertips and, best of all, it's searchable.

NFPA70e (Apple and Android)
Currently, for $9.99, you can have the arc flash code set forth by the NFPA. Not only does this make all that information readily accessible, but like the ERG and most reference apps you'll find, it's searchable.

NIOSH Pocket Guide for Chemical Hazards (Apple and Android)
Varying costs, but a wealth of information in-hand.

TOOLS

iAuditor (Apple and Android)
Why wing it? Have you ever done an audit, only to return to your office and discover you forgot to check on something? If not, maybe you're still carrying around a clipboard and taking handwritten notes that you need to later enter into the computer. Well, iAuditor eliminates the need for that. You can use a pre-existing template or create your own fully-customizable audit. Each answer is just a tap of the finger, but simply click that same question to open up a text box for comments and a button to attach your photos (which you just took with the very same piece of equipment – no emailing photos or retrieving them from memory cards). The audits even give the ability for you and a site representative to sign on-screen. Finished with your audit? Save it as a PDF and immediately send it to all interested parties if you so choose.

JSA by BreakThrough Apps (Apple and Android)
Create JSA templates. Complete them. Share them. Organize them. This app allows you – for free – to build customized Job Safety Analyses. Simply fill it out, discuss with the crew, and send to interested parties.

OSHA Heat Tool (Apple and Android)
Is it hot enough out for ya? Yeah, who doesn't want to slap the guy who says that to you during that heat wave at the end of July? But, how hot is it? Is it "hot"? "Really hot"? or "Holy Hell it's so hot my feet just melted to the asphalt"? And is it really hot or is it just the humidity? Well, in reality, the answer is that it's a combination of the two. OSHA's heat safety tool allows you to enter the heat and percent humidity to get a hazard rating and precautions to take.

Brady Link360 Lockout/Tagout (Apple and Android)
If you've got complicated machinery, then you most likely have complicated Lockout/Tagout procedures. This app allows you to create and manage your procedures on your device so that people performing LO/TO can view the procedure on theirs, complete with photos and diagrams.

Crosby Sling Calculator (Apple and Android)
At $24.99 this one is a little pricier, but if $25 can save you thousands of dollars in lost materials, damaged equipment/structures, and injured employees, I'd say it's worth it. This app allows you to select the type of rigging you will be using as well as the shape of the load to help you determine if the rigging you're using is sufficient for the pick. Crosby also offers paid and free versions of their lifting guides and equipment selection guides.

Noise Sniffer (Apple and Android)
Look, as of right now our phones and tablets are not going to take the place of highly calibrated scientific equipment (maybe not so far off, but not now). However, an app like Noise Sniffer (and there are a ton of sound meter apps out there) can at least give you an idea of the noise levels in your environment to help you determine if noise levels are rising to questionable levels.

i-Safe (Apple and Android)
Capital Safety has launched a mobile application for use on mobile phones and tablets. Combining this app with RFID technology already embedded in your fall protection equipment, or retrofitted with an RFID tag, i-Safe streamlines your electronic record keeping. Once equipment has been logged into the iSafe app you can remotely manage and report on the inspected equipment.

The truth is, I could continue on and on and on. From apps that cover the MUTCD requirements to apps that help you lift properly, there is a prolific amount of information out there. As with anything on the internet, I caution you to read reviews, use apps from trusted sources, and do your own research into their accuracy and applicability in your situation. Whether you want to have a one stop shop for OSHA news, a source for weekly safety meetings, a quick reference for ladder safety, or a place to download safety videos, most likely all it takes is a quick search in whichever app store you use.

What apps are you using to manage safety on your job site or in the office? Add to this list by including your ideas in the comments below.

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