App or Crap? Sorting Through Safety Apps, Part 1

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Almost every worker is now issued a smart phone. Some may even be provided with tablet devices. We’ve come a long way from two-way radios and flip phones. Smart phones and tablets can be a distraction or a production tool. One way that these mobile devices can encourage safe production at the work site is through the use of mobile applications.

Mobile applications can be divided into two categories: stand-alone or companion apps. A stand-alone app does not tie-in to a greater system that provides tracking, trending, or other enterprise features. The app and the information it gathers are kept solely on the end user’s device. These apps are usually free or cheap.

A companion app is “friends” with a greater system. It may have very specialized features that aggregate the information gathered from multiple users and communicate it to pre-designated groups or individuals for follow-up. These apps usually cost money, or at least the greater system that they are tied to has an initial start up cost and membership or maintenance fees.

The best app for one organization may not be a good fit for another. Work with your information technology department to understand the capabilities and limitations of the mobile devices your company provides. A combination of stand-alone and companion apps may be the best solution.

Apply a four-way test to identify if an application is right for you:

  1. Is the app reputable, safe, and secure?
  2. Will the app help me to do something that I actually need help with?
  3. Is the app easy to use and intuitive?
  4. Does the app save me time?

A good app will make your workload easier to manage by leveraging technology. If you are unsure of an app’s safety or security, work with your company’s IT department. Take time to read the customer reviews of an app before downloading it. Often the reviews can help you head off any malware or other security problems.

Think about the end users of the applications that you are evaluating. There may be a skills gap based on generation or general comfort with technology. No one is pressuring you to use applications in your safety program. Take your company’s culture into consideration. There may be another way to achieve the outcome you are looking for.

Learn more at the Mobile Apps for Safety webinar, Tuesday October 13, 2015. Use code SPEAKFREE for complimentary registration.

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