Safety apps picked by safety expert Paul Colangelo. He debuted the 10 best at ASSE’s Safety 2015. Hear Paul offer his thoughts on each, see links to all.
Paul reviewed 150 environmental health and safety apps for iOS and Android devices. Even one for the Windows phone. Mr. Colangelo, STS, CHST, CET, is National Director of Compliance Programs at ClickSafety.
Paul focused on low cost and free applications, and those which work without an internet connection. He avoided sponsored and vendor apps.
Listen for Paul’s 10 best safety apps, and see links for iTunes and Google Play downloads in the transcript below.
Brandon Nys: Welcome to Safety Experts Talk. Take a look at our website at CreativeSafetySupply.com/podcast for related links in the transcript of this podcast.
Paul Colangelo: I don’t know of a safety professional, personally, any of my colleagues, that don’t have is app.
Dan Clark: A safety expert went through 150 environmental health and safety mobile apps to find the most valuable.
Paul: I don’t know anybody in my industry that does not have this app on their smart device.
Dan: Hello. I’m Dan Clark and today were talking with Paul Colangelo, National Director of Compliance Programs at ClickSafety. Hello, Paul.
Paul: Hi, Dan. How’s it going?
Dan: Alright. You revealed your list at ASSE’s June convention, Safety 2015.
Paul: Yeah. This actually was a pet project of mine for about the last year and it seemed like a very good talking point topic to submit and ASSE thought the same and got a lot of interest at the show.
Dan: Oh good. Before we get to these apps, tell us about ClickSafety and ClickSafety.com.
Paul: Yeah, thank you. So, we are an e-learning company that we specialize in 10 and 30 hour OSHA online training courses and we’ve got about 300 specialized courses available in English and Spanish.
And our website also has some very valuable tools as well, in terms of e-learning and m-learning, like our free toolbox talks. We have a library of almost 80 toolbox talks on things like confined space, electrical safety, fall protection, things of that nature. Check it out at www.clicksafety.com.
Dan: Alright. Now to the apps. When you looked at the safety apps, I know you thought about the cost and what’s on it, the content, maybe the size of the app. Anything else when you reviewed these?
Paul: Well, sure. You know, I think of in terms of just finding out what is available out there for a safety professional or even somebody whose job is affiliated with safety in general, function ability, ease-of-use, does it contain helpful information?
Paul: One of the things that I tried to stay clear of was a lot of the vendor, the commerce-related apps. There’s a lot of good ones out there. Many good ones. The thing was, I was really trying to focus on apps that provided some sort of utility function. Measurements calculations, things of that nature. And they are universal in scale, regardless of the industry. Whether it was construction, general, petro-chem, maritime. Things of that nature.
Dan: Tried to avoid the apps that were trying to sell you something, is that what you’re saying?
Paul: Yes, and again, there are a lot of great vendors out there with apps that are very useful. But for this study I tried to avoid those.
Dan: Let’s rank them by price. You didn’t have a specific order in your 10. Let’s go with the most expensive and I don’t think anybody could a balk at paying $7.99 for the NIOSH POCKET GUIDE TO HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS, [iOS] although it wasn’t developed by NIOSH. Tell us about it.
Paul: That’s correct. So, it was actually developed, the developer was a private company but they did in accordance with NIOSH’s emergency response guidebook, which I thought was really great. Very easy app to use. It also works off-line. Another one of those things that when you look at apps, let’s face it, the reliability of the Internet—especially if you’re in the field. If it goes down, can you actually access the app?
So, working off-line was a big plus for this app and I thought, for $7.99, it was definitely something that I would consider using.
Paul: So, Electrical Safety Tests, especially with the rise of NFPA 70E, the dangers of arc flash and arc blast. And even just basic electrical safety. I’m still surprised at the amount of safety professionals out there that don’t even know their way around a multimeter, simple voltage and amperage. Not that I am any foremost expert on either. But I just found that this app seemed to, in a very basic way, allow the user to understand electrical theories and Ohm’s law. Some of the things like grounding safety, very very valuable and, again, universal in scale, no matter what industry you’re from.
Dan: And that’s $2.99 and that’s for iOS and Android.
Paul: Yeah, again, very easy to understand and the graphics just felt like that you had a multimeter right there in front of you. And I also wanted to point out that Mr. Combi, the company that is behind this, they make several different apps. The dangers of pressure, pneumatic pressure and steam. All different types of hazards that fall under the control of hazardous energies category.
Paul: Yeah, who doesn’t like anything that’s going to be useful. I don’t care whether it’s at work, at home, in the workplace. Whether its out in the field or in the office. This little Pocket First Aid app just seemed to have some incredible videos and photographs. Extremely useful information. Again, I always recommend that anybody that wants to get certified at first aid / CPR take the appropriate course. But I’ve got to tell you I could give this app to my kids and in a matter of 20 minutes they could understand the basics of first aid / CPR.
Paul: Yeah, that’s correct. This was introduced by WorkSafeBC up in Canada.
Paul: Everybody really thinks about “What does the cost of an injury mean?” Besides the impact of the individual, what does it actually translate to? So, something as simple as spraining ankle, for instance. The direct and indirect costs. What does that actually equate to?
So, if I was somebody in safety that needed to describe to management—typically management doesn’t speak safety language, you know. But they understand dollars and cents.
Paul: They could easily look at an injury and say “Well, maybe if we did a little bit more work in terms of proactive learning and training, it would prevent an injury that instead of it just being looking like somebody’s out for three days, what are the dollar amounts behind that?” You know, “What does it cost to retrain somebody?” and things of that nature. That’s on the management side.
On the workforce side, again, it really helps somebody to understand better what the impact of an injury is. And what I liked about this app—one of the things that I liked about it—was that it was scalable to a lot of different industries. Construction and GI [general industry]. All different types of ways that you could take an industry and show how injury will impact an individual and the company that they work for.
Dan: That’s great, and it’s free and it works for iOS and Android.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I had some very selfish reasons for picking this one. I’ve used AccuWeather for years. I know a lot of phones, these days—smart phones—come with their own weather apps. But I just find AccuWeather to be, well, accurate.
Paul: This little app, it’ll constantly chime off with “There’s lightning in the area.” All types of weather conditions that safety professionals need to be aware, especially if the workforce is outside. Anybody that’s doing tower work, construction work, steel erection.
I just really enjoy AccuWeather and one of the things that I do like about it a lot is a lot of these apps are powered by ads and I’m not that big a fan of pop-up ads—and I don’t think anybody is. But even though this is an ad-supported app, they are still ads the bottom of the screen which don’t interfere with information that you need access.
Dan: Okay, and this is also free. It works for iOS and Android and this is the only one on your list that is a Windows phone compatible app.
Paul: Yes that’s correct. Three platform availability is always a big plus, so, again, that got high marks from me.
Paul: Yeah, so ergonomics. Again, a very big initiative out there in the workplace in terms of “How are we treating our bodies and our musculoskeletal disorders?” And ergonomics is a big part of that.
So, anybody that’s looking to design an ergonomics program for their company, I just found this to be a very helpful app in offering advice on the checkpoints in terms of people that stand or lift or turn their bodies in certain ways. And it just is a very user-friendly app. It’s got some great graphics and, again, it works off-line. It’s available in two platforms and it’s free. Who doesn’t love that?
Dan: Love it. The NIOSH LADDER SAFETY app. [iOS English/Spanish] [Android English/Spanish] The one from the National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health. And this one they actually made themselves, right?
Paul: Yes the did. So NIOSH, our friends at the National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health. I mean anybody that’s involved in research and development in the depth they are, they put out a lot of great stuff. And their ladder app, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know of a safety professional, personally, any of my colleagues, that don’t have is app. Very friendly to use, user-friendly. Great graphics. Primarily works with extension ladders. And it’s got some very helpful ladder inspection points.
Again, very universal in scale, no matter what industry that you happen to be working in. And very helpful tips for doing ladder inspections and checkpoints. Again, it’s free, offered in two platforms. A very popular app with the safety professionals that I know.
Dan: And it’s also good for the ladder ignorant who don’t know about angles. If you’re going to set the ladder up, it has to be set at the correct angle for the height it’s at.
Paul: That’s correct. So, especially in the world that I operate in, which is construction, you know, falls kill more workers every year, by far, than any other hazard. Anything that’s going to be helpful in assisting workers and management in determining fall clear distance. You know, it’s not just enough to have the personal protective equipment and to receive the training on it. Let’s face it, we all get rusty. It doesn’t make sense if we all have that proper personal protective equipment but we fail to determine the proper fall clear distance. And this app just seemed to be such a help in determining that. In determining the person’s weight and height. All different types of environments that they work in.
This was actually one of the apps that I had a two minute demonstration on during my presentation. I actually filmed some of this right from the live app use. Again, I just thought it was a great little app to use. And FallClear also offers a couple of other different platforms beyond the Lite. The Lite is the free one. I do believe that they offer ones that are for sale over and above that. This particular app, for free, in US and metric use, for iOS and Android I think was a big winner.
Paul: No, not at all. I think, again, if you talk to any safety professional in the industry out there, the folks at SafetyCulture who have developed this app have just done an outstanding job with iAuditor. It’s been around for years. Anybody that’s doing workplace inspections, any sort of auditing, this app—as far as I’m concerned—I’ve used it for years. I know so many people in the industry out there that are using it. Very user-friendly. Incredible templates out there.
Another great feature of this app is that everybody that has used this app—millions have used this app doing their inspection auditing—and they have actually been able to share those documents. I want to say there’s a database, maybe 50,000 or more templates that are available that people have actually shared. So, sometimes when you’re out there doing audits, people commonly say “Hey, I wonder what somebody else is using and, you know, how they’re using it.” Well, guess what. iAuditor’s app has actually hosted a lot of these templates.
So, it’s one of those apps, I think, is just so universal in scale. It’s free, available in two platforms. I can’t say enough about it. I think it’s a huge winner.
And, not to mention, I also found out that it, it won a Tabby Award. There’s actually a website out there. They review apps every year and this particular app had won in two categories. So, Tabby Award, big winner for iAuditor, and I think it’s a winner, again across the board, for safety professionals.
Dan: I was amazed this is the second most popular app that safety pros use, iAuditor. So it’s a universal for all industries as well.
Paul: Yes. I don’t know anybody in my industry that does not have this app on their smart device. OSHA came out with this a few years ago. It’s just very simple, a very simple app. It’s such a huge assistive device for such an initiative like heat illness. Everybody that’s out there working, whether it’s indoors or outdoors—and this is another one of those apps that’s very useful at home. Introduce it to children.
But as far as the safety professional goes, this is such a useful app. Our friends at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I think, did a great justice to the industry in coming out with this. It’s available in English and Spanish for two platforms and I also love the fact that it’s got a great link to the OSHA website for any regulatory information that you need access.
Dan: Well, I also like the fact that, you know, you can get an heat index from many different mobile weather apps. But this actually gives you advice on what you should do. Say, if it’s 100° and your humidity is it 80%, it’s not the same as 100° and humidity at 10%. I mean, that’s a really dangerous situation.
Dan: And it gives you, basically, warding off first aid issues. You know, “Go in the shade. Schedule work early in the day. Make sure that you have a lot of liquids.”
A lot of those, for an experienced pro, they will already know many of these things. But many people don’t, especially if they change location. If they go to a different region where, maybe, the humidity is higher. The heat index is really, really a critical thing.
Paul: Yes, all great points. This app has taken all that into consideration and, again, being available in Spanish is huge. You know, our Spanish workforce—think about the amount of our Spanish workforce that work outdoors. This is just, again, a great app to use and share.
Dan: The iOS version was actually updated with new graphics and more information this spring. So, OSHA’s updated that part of it. And the Android version is still the same, and still very valuable.
Well, this is great. We’ve gone through all 10. And some of your app research came from SafetyAwakenings.com and our guy Dave Weber, ‘cause you had 150 of these apps to look at.
Paul: Yeah, you know, interestingly, when I first started this project, one of the things that I thought to myself was “How do you actually find out what’s available out there beyond the vendor apps?”
Paul: And, you know, going to the actual platforms like Android and iTunes, these can be very tough to search for under utility apps.
One of the things I wanted doing my presentation was to be able to show people that there are resources out there that are very valuable. And Safety Awakenings, again, I’ve just got to give incredible kudos to Safety Awakenings and Dave Weber.
I found that that website, in terms of what they do, the reviews and ratings that they give these apps, and the detail in which they do it, very, very, very helpful to a safety professional in finding out what’s available out there. And, you know, maybe not just what’s available out there, but some of the ones that you may want to think about steering clear of as well. Safety Awakenings, definitely the website that I would reference for assistance in determining the apps out there that I can use in my given industry and company.
Dan: Paul, this has been great and thank you very much for reviewing these. A lot of people will stay safer because of these mobile apps that you’ve recommended. I appreciate it.
Paul: You’re welcome Dan. It’s been great talking with you, and thank you.
Dan: That’s Paul Colangelo, National Director Of Compliance Programs at ClickSafety. Check it out at clicksafety.com. I’m Dan Clark.
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Brandon: Thank you for joining us on Safety Experts Talk. If you have suggestions for future podcasts, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more safety experts talking about safety news, OSHA regulations, PPE, lean, 5S, or Continuous Improvement, go to CreativeSafetySupply.com/podcast.
Colangelo photo © 2015 ClickSafety.com Inc. / Paul Colangelo; Mobile devices by Pixabay / Geralt; hard hat man by US Army Corps Eng / Michael J. Nevins