Construction safety managers walk a fine line between keeping workers safe on the jobsite and interrupting the workflow. Fortunately, mobile applications make it easier than ever for safety managers to maintain a healthy balance of worker safety and productivity. Safety managers can inspect, document, advise, map, measure and access documentation from their smartphone or tablet while on the jobsite.
Companies large enough to employ full-time safety managers may also provide access to software applications such as HCSS, Velocity EHS or Safesite. These applications come with integrated mobile apps to produce inspection reports, hazard analyses, certification tracking and more.
But most safety managers (or smaller contractors who are forced to take on the responsibilities of a safety manager) cobble together their own safety management apps to try to save money. All apps and capabilities mentioned here are free. More sophisticated functionality, additional storage or other features may be available for a fee.
8 Apps Safety Managers Use Every Day
iAuditor: Build your own audit or borrow one of the existing templates from the public library. Either way, you can start an audit almost immediately after downloading the app. Take and annotate pictures. Work offline if necessary and then sync when you get network access. Send inspection reports directly from the app. If you’re looking to cut down on paperwork and digitize your inspections, then you can do it all from this app.
FallClear LITE: This app lets you calculate fall clearance for lifelines, SRL fall arrest systems and vertical lifelines with automatic fall arrester. You can specify the worker’s position in relation to the anchor, create user profiles for each worker to streamline weight calculations, and customize other important data points such as harness type, PEA type and lanyard length.
AccuWeather: As long as you’re on Earth, then you can get detailed weather information for the next few hours or days. This app uses crowdsourcing as part of its algorithm to forecast weather, so you can also contribute to what’s happening in your area. Get lightning, wind and other severe weather alerts. Pair with a first aid app to stay ahead of risks from extreme heat or cold.
Dropbox: Contractors, clients, engineers, designers and regulatory officials almost always need access to the most recent project documents while you’re indisposed. Use Dropbox to make them available from anywhere and maintain version control. There’s no worse feeling than demoing that fireplace that the client decided to keep two drafts ago. Except maybe pouring the new driveway where the pool is supposed to be.
Skitch: All safety managers need a handy app that marks up photographs. Skitch makes it easy to point out issues, write quick notes, blur out unnecessary or private information and share the edited image. Whether it’s part of an inspection or just a reminder to keep an eye on something, the visual reference will make communication more efficient.
Decibel 10th: Do workers protest when you tell them they need to wear hearing protection? Show them proof that they’re hearing is at risk with this noise meter. If levels are above 85 dB, then foamies, earmuffs or active noise reduction technology need to be included in the day’s PPE.
National Trench Safety: Build a jobsite excavation checklist, access quick reference guides on sloping/benching or soil information and sign up for safety training from your mobile device with this app. The app also provides instant access to safety guidelines for digging, stabilizing and working in and around trenches.
Heavy Equipment Inspection: Apps to guide inspections of graders, forklifts, bulldozers, scrapers, loaders, pavers, cranes and excavators help improve situational awareness for operators and their support crews. The user interfaces are a bit clunky and the in-app purchases can be intrusive, but there’s plenty of functionality in the free versions to get you started.
3 Apps Safety Managers Need to Have Ready
First Aid by American Red Cross: Even if you’re trained in first aid and CPR, it never hurts to have a quick reference guide on your smartphone. This app provides emergency training, preparedness and first aid instructions for maladies ranging from mild strains to broken bones and heart attacks.
Scribe for OSHA: When an incident does occur, there’s no time to waste in notifying OSHA. This app makes it easier to collect necessary information, reach out to the nearest OSHA office and email the information to yourself and other stakeholders. Not sure if an incident is serious enough to justify reporting? Check here to see OSHA’s line in the sand on that matter.
ERG 2016: Chemical spills are fraught with unknowns. The first 30 minutes following a spill are usually the most important. The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s Emergency Response Guidebook will be a critical reference to help you until emergency responders arrive.
It Only Starts with Safety Managers
You don’t have to have the title or designation of safety managers to use any of these apps. In fact, it makes sense for supervisors to sync their apps with their safety managers’ so it’s easier to share and reference images and reports.
Any worker who is concerned about their safety or that of the rest of their crew can use an app to help identify a hazard and prevent an accident. Why not let technology increase situational awareness and efficiency, especially with no upfront costs?