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Published: December, 2017; Vol 14, Num 7

 

Free Apps to Help Improve Worker Safety and Health

If you search for “construction safety apps” in the app store on your phone or tablet, you’ll get hundreds of options. With so many choices, it can be difficult to separate the helpful apps from the ones that will waste your time and money and end up going unused. We last shared some of our favorite safety and health apps back in 2014. Here are two recently released free apps that are worth checking out.

Fall Prevention

Harness Hero – available on iPhone and Android

Year after year, falls continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in construction. The Fund has written about how employers can participate in the annual National Safety Stand Down and about the importance of protecting workers during all aspects of a fall.

The Harness Hero app takes a different approach by creating a game that engages players in the key decisions of using a fall arrest system. Players must choose where to anchor, what type of anchorage device to use, how to set up the harness and what connection device to use. The player also inspects fall protection equipment for burns, rips, rust and other malfunctions. After these decisions, the player encounters a fall. The results will vary depending on how well they set up their fall arrest system – they could see a rescue, a severe injury or even a fatality. Here’s a video of some gameplay from the app:

While fall protection certainly isn’t a game to be taken lightly, the app does a good job of showing that effective fall protection requires a series of correct choices to be made every time a worker faces a fall hazard. Training workers how to use fall protection properly isn’t just a good idea – it’s also a requirement under OSHA’s fall protection standard. For workers who spend time on bridge projects, there’s also Harness Hero: Bridge Edition.

For more information about preventing falls on your site, use our online Publications Catalogue to order the Fund’s series of toolbox talks on fall protection:

  • Fall Prevention: Guardrail Systems
  • Holes in Flooring and Other Openings
  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • Ladder Safety
  • Slips, Trips and Falls

Noise

NIOSH Sound Level Meter – available on iPhone

Occupational hearing loss is pervasive in the construction industry. Seventy-five percent of workers who spend their entire career in construction end up with hearing loss. Task-based controls and personal protective equipment like earplugs and earmuffs can help limit the effects of noisy construction sites and equipment.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) created the NIOSH Sound Level Meter app to give safety and health professionals, industrial hygienists and researchers an accurate tool to use during initial noise assessments. Many other noise apps lack the accuracy and functionality necessary to conduct occupational noise measurements. This one includes many key metrics for safety and health professionals, including A, C or Z weighted decibels, maximum noise level, time-weighted average over eight hours and the projected daily exposure.

However, the app can also help workers make more informed decisions about hazards to their hearing. NIOSH has verified this app to be accurate within two decibels, so while it’s not a replacement for professional instruments and expertise, it does provide a fairly accurate assessment of a worker’s noise exposure. The app also contains some basic information on noise and hearing loss prevention. Noise may be a fact of life in the construction industry, but harmful noise exposure doesn’t have to be.

For more information about noise and preventing occupational hearing loss among construction laborers, order the LHSFNA’s Laborers’ Guide to Noise and Hearing Loss pamphlet or our Task-based Hearing Loss Prevention manual. The Fund’s OSH Division can also provide additional guidance on how to reduce noise exposure on your site.

[Nick Fox]