A survey of 249 construction firms revealed that construction businesses use mobile applications mainly for keeping business contacts organized (40%), scheduling (29%), updating project status, and assigning tasks (22%). The use of mobile devices allows construction workers to make quick decisions, eliminate time-consuming errors, and provide instant reporting on the jobsite. Some companies have gone as far as creating “mobile-only” zones where workers can test new mobile apps for construction.
Besides administrative and engineering functions, mobile apps can also improve safety at a construction site. Below are five handpicked construction safety apps that assist contractors and construction workers in understanding the dangers of a task being performed, operating heavy machinery correctly, and learning safe practices.
1. Ladder Safety app
This year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) launched a Ladder Safety app aimed at preventing falls, which are the leading cause of worksite injuries in the construction industry. The app uses audio and visual signals to facilitate checking a ladder’s angle, which is particularly useful for workers who use extension ladders.
Workers often wrongly estimate the ladder angle, risking a fall. A ladder that is set steeply is likely to fall away or back. On the other hand, setting a ladder too shallowly may mean the bottom slides out. “Construction workers just place their mobile phone against the ladder, and the app determines if the ladder’s inclination angle is correctly set at 77.5 degrees,” said Jerry Rivera, NECA Director, Safety.
By providing feedback to workers on the correct positioning of the ladder, the app helps avoid accidents. It also has tips on selecting and inspecting a ladder, choosing accessories, and understanding usage. It is available on both the Google Play Store (rating 4.9) and iTunes (rating 5).
2. Forklift Safety Pro app
Forklift operators have to fulfill OSHA Daily Inspections and the Forklift Safety Pro app allows them to do so. “The employer has an inspection report which is Date/Time Stamped, is secure and durable, and can be archived in a paperless format,” says the developer.
OSHA requires a re-evaluation of a forklift operator every three years and a re-certification if the operator has changed the machinery during that time interval. Once you enter your last certification date in the app, it will give a daily countdown of the days left until you next need to re-certify yourself.
By asking you a question a day from the OSHA Approved Forklift Operator Safety Test, the app ensures that you’re more likely to pass your certification program. If you operate the same truck daily, you can enter those details in the app to speed up your inspection time even more. The app is available on iTunes for $4.99.
3. Dropped Objects Calculator
This app helps you calculate the impact of a fallen object by simply entering the object’s weight and the approximate fall distance. It tells you the impact in Joules. Also, the app categorizes the impact as:
- Slight: Limited injury, which can be treated with first aid.
- Minor: Employee received medical treatment beyond first aid. A recordable incident.
- Major: A Lost Time Incident occurred, meaning the injury caused time away from work after the shift or day it happened.
- Fatality: The injury or trauma causes death.
This app can be used to train workers, design safer work sites, and take appropriate precautions. It costs $2.99 and can be downloaded from iTunes.
iConstructSafe is a collection of short videos (2-3 minutes each) which remind workers of safe practices when they most need it — at the work site. This is a good solution to the usual problem of time lag between training and implementation.
Wifi isn’t required, as the videos are stored on the phone. Videos range from PPE to fall prevention and ergonomics. There are also videos on power tools, hand tools, air powered tools, etc. The app also provides ideas for supervisors running regular safety meetings.
There is also a safety tip of the day. It is a free app with a 5 star rating and can be downloaded from iTunes.
LiftRight uses the NIOSH Lifting Equation to analyze the safety of lifting tasks in the workplace. An illustrated measurement guide helps you fill in the information the app requires. It calculates the recommended weight limit, which helps improve safety.
You can even include notes or photos in the app. It also gives suggestions on improving the lift’s safety and can be used offline. The app is available for both Android devices and iPhones.