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Smartphones vital to safety

Cellular devices used to be frowned upon in the workplace. Employers didn’t want to catch workers falling behind on their daily work by wasting time on the phone. In a sign of the changing times, phones are now vital to the workplace, especially those in dangerous sectors. Through a combination of simple features, such as text messaging and voice calls, the smartphones of today are built with the technology and applications to monitor employees and help them communicate with others during emergencies.

These devices are only one part of a communications solution every workplace should have in place.

A construction worker on his smartphone.Smartphones can help companies improve safety conditions.

Smartphone benefits
Today’s smartphones differ vastly from their feature phone counterparts. Likewise, today’s devices can trace their roots back to personal digital assistants. Starting in 2007, technology companies began releasing today’s smartphones to mass appeal. Workplaces took notice and since then, have developed tools for employee safety. An appealing aspect of technology, especially in 2015, is companies don’t necessarily have to hire computer specialist to build the perfect safety solution. In an interview with Business and Legal Resources, Simple But Needed CEO Shourya Basu said with the right setup, not only can smartphones increase workplace safety, but management can collect data and use it to help make better decisions.

One of the more appealing aspects of the devices is the streamlining of tasks. Instead of employees taking notes and later transcribing and emailing them, they can instead send that important email directly from their phone. This email may identify safety violations or recognition of safety practices.

How to use a smartphone for proper safety habits
Due to the extreme flexibility these devices offer, it’s understandable if some companies feel overwhelmed at first by their options when it comes to what exactly a smartphone can provide with regards to safety. First and foremost are the bare essentials. Messaging and voice calling will come in handy if employees need to regularly check in with their supervisors. Texts are helpful in those instances where the surrounding noise may make calls too difficult to understand.

According to Shanari Baird of the HSE Press Journal, numerous applications have been created that can serve specific safety functions in the workplace. For example, most mobile devices are built with a global positioning system chip. Employers can configure devices to constantly relay location coordinates, a feature particularly helpful if workers are traveling to and from off-site worksites.

“Perhaps no smartphone feature is more important than the camera.”

Perhaps no smartphone feature is more important than the camera. Today’s devices are built with top of the line lenses that can capture intricate detail. As a result, employees and managers can take picture and record videos of unsafe workplace conditions. By documenting these violations, companies can revamp current policies to ensure workers aren’t harmed, as well as avoid potential fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers can also install an OSHA app to always stay updated on the latest safety requirements as well.

In particular, Baird highlighted the slow-motion video capture feature some devices have. When used, safety inspectors can thoroughly see if workers are performing dangerous tasks correctly, and if not, the video can be used for future corrections. Photographs and videos serve as great documentation for later use, as well as real time

Smartphones are truly amazing pieces of technology. Manufacturers pack in many features and capabilities companies can take advantage of to promote worker safety while on the job. Third-party applications can enable management to track lone-wolf workers, while cameras can record dangerous working conditions. Of course, no feature is more important than being able to make an emergency phone call if needed.

When smartphones are properly utilized in communications plans, workplace safety will improve for the better.

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