Good luck, good health, God bless you. That’s the title of an old song, but it might as well be a heads-up for workers who have the misfortune of not knowing how to work healthy or are working in an unhealthful environment. Fear not (that’s a song, too) though, there’s much good news for the American worker.
Good health, never the best suit of workplaces, has finally come to the office (and none too soon, too) in the form of mobile apps that promote good health practices for workers while they’re at work.
Employers are finally realizing the important role good health plays in workflow efficiency and how much it can affect the bottom line of the company. They are also realizing that their employees have on them a convenient digital tool, their never-leave-home-without-it mobile devices, to put good-health practices top of mind.
To work as health tools, the repurposed mobile devices of course need to have health apps installed. A Galaxy s4 or an iPhone can’t quickly advise you on, say, the proper posture if it doesn’t have the right app. Health apps for workers, fortunately, are no longer tucked away in some special corner of the Web, but are becoming increasingly accessible to employees and employers, thanks to initiatives like the “Worker Safety & Health App Challenge,” Department of Labor’s recently concluded contest for developing health apps.
Many of the apps are minimally priced; some are even free to download. If you’re one of many who want to be healthy at work, here are some of the best health apps on the market today:
Ergonomics. This cool mobile app (for iOS devices only, unfortunately) serves up lots of advice on the use of ergonomic equipment to help workers, who spend hours sitting at their desks, stay free of workstation-related discomforts, pains, and injuries. It also describes lots of low-impact exercises, including stress-dissolving stretches, to prevent or melt away muscle aches and joint stiffness that stressed office workers often suffer. And just so you don’t welsh out of your program, it allows you to track your progress, compare exercise times with coworkers, and alert you when it’s time for a break, a walk, or a stretch. It also lets you check RSS feeds for workplace-health tips.
Ergonomics is such a winner that it bagged the People’s Choice Award in DoL’s App Challenge. Best of all, it’s absolutely free.
USW Chemical Safety. This iPhone app, also a winner in the DoL App Challenge, is for workers who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals while at work. USW Chemical Safety is a health-and-safety app that lets users trawl a database for such things as health hazards, exposure limits, personal protective equipment, workplace controls, handling and storage and emergency procedures related to hazardous substances in the workplace. The app also allows users to locate a chemical by name and to access information on its exposure limits, the appropriate personal protective gear for it, and first aid—three critical details that directly affect safety.
USW Chemical Safety features a locator function to give workers who want more information access to contact details of the nearest OSHA district office.
GetHealth. Unlike the two previous apps, GetHealth is available for both iPhones and Android devices. GetHealth is basically an app for managing the user’s wellness program via an online dashboard. It’s something of a fun app: not only does it let users win points for health-centered tasks (for instance, eating fruits and vegetables), it also allows them to send messages ala social media to coworkers! GetHealth can be downloaded for free by workers whose companies have signed up for the platform.
Moves. This iOS app truly has got the moves. It’s a personal mobile activity tracker (a pedometer, if you will) that measures your mileage when you’re walking, running, or cycling. Moves automatically tracks and records your mileage and lets you check your daily accumulated distance, where you went, how you got there, and coolest of all, how many calories you burned off in the process. And did we say it’s free, too?
Glucose Buddy. Need a tool to make monitoring your glucose level through the day easier? Try Glucose Buddy, an app available as a free download for Android and iOS platforms. If you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or you simply want to keep yourself in top health, this is the app for you. With Glucose Buddy you just input such data as carbohydrate consumption and glucose numbers and the app turns the input into an illustrative graph that shows the trend of your parameters. It’s a potential lifesaver for diabetic workers.