Smartphone apps for workplace safety and health can be great tools and also save you some time. But first you have to find them.
Whether you’re already using apps for safety at work or not, here are ones you should consider adding to your arsenal of OSH tools:
Weather or not
The OSH/NIOSH Heat Index app has become a must-have when employees are exposed to hot, humid outdoor conditions.
The app calculates the heat index for your location, gives a forecast for heat intensity for the next several hours and recommendations on actions to take given the current risk level where you are. If you’re not located where employees are working outside, you can enter their specific location, too. Google Play. Apple App Store.
The NIOSH Ladder Safety App includes an Angle Measuring Tool which uses visual, sound, and vibration signals to make it easier to set an extension ladder at the proper angle (75 degrees).
The math of safe lifting
NIOSH’s Lifting Equation App calculates the risk index for single and multiple manual lifting tasks.
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards Native Application is a database of workplace chemical information including exposure limits, chemical/physical properties, PPE, respirators, and first aid.
The SafeMe app from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries helps entry-level workers learn about workplace safety and health.
So far, this list has included apps that are available for both Android and iPhones.
The NIOSH Sound Level Meter is available only through the Apple App Store (more about that in a moment).
The NIOSH SLM combines the best features of professional sound levels meters and noise dosimeters into a simple, easy-to-use package.
NIOSH’s sound meter was tested and validated (accuracy ± 2 dBA) according to standards in a reverberant chamber at the NIOSH acoustics lab – the only proper method to validate accuracy.
It also meets Type 2 requirements of IEC 61672:3 SLM standard when used with an external microphone.
Why isn’t it available for Android? It’s due to the number of different Android phones available.
At this point, NIOSH hasn’t figured out how to assure the accuracy of a sound meter app across different Android phones.
However, a 2016 study found using external calibrated microphones greatly improves the overall accuracy and precision of smartphone sound measurements.
While the study was conducted on iPhones, the authors say the use of an external microphone with sound level meter apps on Android devices may eliminate the problem of the fragmented Android market.
The take-home overall on using smartphone apps for sound level measurements: They can be used in some circumstances when properly calibrated.
With so many sound level meter apps out there, which ones should you choose for Android?
The New York Hearing Center recommends three Android apps.