DOL App Challenge Puts Vital Information In Hands Of Young Workers

by Dr. David Michaels on January 14, 2013

The Department of Labor recently announced the winning entries of its Worker Safety and Health App Challenge. Our goal was to provide vital information on workplace rights and protections to the millions of young people who enter the workforce every year.

We launched the challenge eight months ago to make use of one of our nation’s greatest resources: the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the American public. At the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, we were impressed with the response from developers, students and others who put their tech savvy and creativity to the test by creating apps and websites that can help keep all workers safe and healthy on the job.

With so many outstanding submissions among the 20 finalists, and just four prizes, it was difficult to choose the winners. But after careful consideration, our panel of judges – which included Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show “MythBusters” – picked submissions they felt made the best use of new technologies to make information and resources on safety and health even more accessible to young workers and their employers.

The $15,000 Safety in the Workplace Innovator Award went to Working Safely Is No Accident, a website developed by the University of Tennessee’s Construction Industry Research and Policy Center and its Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The site caters primarily to young workers, providing easily accessible information on common workplace hazards, and rights to a safe and healthful workplace.

The $6,000 Safety and Health Data Award went to the USW Chemical Safety app, developed by the United Steelworkers union. This app draws on a vast database of information about hazardous substances to allow users to quickly search for information about a particular chemical in order to protect themselves and others in the workplace.

The $6,000 Workers’ Rights Award went to the No Jack – Young Workers’ Safety Campaign website, developed by the Montana State Fund (the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurer). This edgy website targets young employees using engaging content to educate both them and their employers about the rights to a safe and healthful workplace.

The $3,000 People’s Choice Award, given to the entry that received the most public votes, went to the Ergonomics iOS Application, developed by Sidharth Garg. This app offers ergonomic equipment setup advice, a variety of workplace-specific stretching exercises, and programmable reminders to help time breaks and prevent musculoskeletal injuries for office workers.

The four winning submissions can be viewed at here. All of the finalists’ submissions can be viewed here, and I encourage you to explore them all. After browsing these apps, I think you’ll be as inspired as I was to see how members of the public took OSHA’s mission to heart, and applied their ingenuity to help America improve workplaces for today’s workers as well as future generations.

Dr. David Michaels is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.


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