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Eight Do's and Don'ts of using mobile apps in the workplace

As apps on smartphones and tablets become an integral part of daily life, it's not surprising that a number of safety professionals are turning to them to help with their jobs. The real-time advantage of instant two-way communication that includes visuals, ready access to safety refreshers or OSHA regulations, and immediate assessment of working conditions such as heat or noise makes the job easier and more efficient. However, most professionals agree that apps should supplement a workplace safety program, not replace it.

Here are eight do's and don't that can help guide the use of mobile apps:


  1. Research and test. Not all apps deliver accurate results. Discuss the needs with your field workers and begin by testing the apps of organizations that you know deliver reputable information. Compare with the results obtained from more traditional methods.
  2. Recognize limitations. Internet signals may be weak in remote areas and some apps can quickly drain a cellphone battery. Do keep a battery charger on hand.
  3. Consider the development of your own app. It may not be as costly as you think and allows the option to tailor the program for your needs. Some companies have moved aspects of their safety programs to apps that allow for coaching of employees and approval of work to begin in potentially dangerous jobs.
  4. Be conscious that distractions have become a major workplace issue. Understand the type and frequency of alerts that employees will receive. Also, restrict the use of the mobile device to specific work situations.


  1. Assume everyone knows how to use an app. Use of technology is daunting for some employees. Proper training is required.
  2. Issue company smartphones or tablets without a mobile policy. A clearly crafted mobile policy is critical so your employees understand the rules and that there is a robust system in place to protect company data and employee safety.
  3. Infringe on employee privacy. While laws addressing the intersection of technology and employee privacy are in their infancy, it's best to practice full disclosure and have a solid business reason when apps involve such things as GPS tracking.
  4. Rely exclusively on apps. Apps are most effective as a supplement to workplace safety programs and can be valuable screening devices. For example, a sound meter app may identify a potentially dangerous noise level, but a calibrated sound meter will provide a more accurate measure.