“Has your employer created an app, and if so, are they engaging the right audience with it?” That was my question to you a couple of issues ago, when I outlined what a successful basic app could look like. Nowadays, you can find an app to tackle tasks that aren’t even basic.

Preventing Fall Injuries
You probably know that ladders can pose a significant risk of injury if not used properly, but did you know there’s an app for that? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently announced the release of a smartphone application for ladder safety, available for free download on iPhone and Android devices.

According to NIOSH, the app “uses visual and audio signals that make it easier for workers using extension ladders to check the angle the ladder is positioned at.” It gives the user feedback on positioning a ladder at the safest angle, and provides references and a safety guide for extension ladder selection, inspection, accessorizing and use.

On March 4th, technology and safety come together at Downstate Illinois’ Occupational Safety & Health Day at the Peoria Civic Center. Celebrating its 24th year in 2015, DIOSH Day will attract several hundred visitors to its trade show and breakout sessions; complete details are available at DIOSHDay.com. Oh, and that ladder app? More information (and the download) awaits at cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls.

An App for Heat Safety
Ladder safety isn’t the only topic with its own app. OSHA also offers a heat safety tool, available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android, which allows users to calculate a heat index for a worksite and provides information about appropriate protective measures. The heat index, which takes both temperature and humidity into account, is typically considered a better measure of risk for heatstroke and other heat-related conditions than temperature alone.

For more information or to download the app, visit osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.

More on the Way…
As smartphones and mobile technology become increasingly important to people’s daily routines, both government agencies and private companies will likely expand their mobile offerings. One that’s currently under development is a mobile version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG). The print version of that publication is NIOSH’s most popular document, providing descriptive, exposure, protective and emergency recommendations for 677 chemicals commonly found in the workplace.

The Bottom Line
While mobile apps are convenient and helpful for certain tasks, it’s important to remember they’re not a substitute for a fully-developed safety program. Safety managers should use them to supplement the essential components of a safety system, including training, job hazard analysis, and more.

I’ve also talked about the “war for talent” in recent columns, and if you’re wondering how an app and a culture of safety at your employer can give you any sort of edge in this war for human capital, I commend you. The word culture, in fact, was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year in 2014. Creating a culture with the edge that Gen X and Gen Y desire is so much more than just compensation. And guess what? There’s an app for that. iBi