What do the U.S. Department of Labor, smartphone app developers, and the co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show “MythBusters” have in common?
They’re all coming together for a nationwide contest to create applications that demonstrate the importance of safety and health in the workplace.
Students and professionals interested in developing tools for Internet browsers, smartphones and social media were encouraged to enter the Labor Department’s “Worker Safety and Health App Challenge.”
Submissions were accepted through November 30. Interactive games, smartphone apps, professional networks and data visualization applications designed for Windows and Macintosh were accepted. Winners will share $30,000 in prizes.
“New technologies have the promise of making our safety and health resources even more accessible for workers and employers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, via a press release.
Michaels said the department hopes to see submissions that will grab the attention of young people by making use of the technologies they love to use—smartphones, feature phones, social media platforms, and, of course, the Internet.
- Emphasize workplace safety and health hazards
- Inform young workers about the consequences of injuries
- Help workers understand their rights, including their employers’ responsibility to ensure safety on the job
- Include functionality for users to interact and share with one another
- Incorporate information from government entities such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and state workers’ compensation programs
Submissions also could include optional components such as a feature to promote best management practices (the correct use of personal protection equipment, for example). Contestants were also encouraged to consider commercial partnerships to ensure sustainability of the app.
Judges will also consider creativity, ease of use, and how well the submissions appeal to the 13-to-24 age group in particular, as well as to workers of all ages.
Several winners will be chosen, with the winner for “Safety in the Workplace Innovator Award” getting a $15,000 prize, and the winners for the “Workers’ Rights Award” and the “Safety and Health Data Award” each getting a $6,000 prize. A “People’s Choice Award” worth $3,000 will also be given to the entry that garners the most votes on the contest website.
Contest judges will include Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance.
Some 18 million U.S. workers are aged 24 and younger, making up nearly 15 percent of the workforce. In 2009, 359 workers aged 13 to 24 died from work-related injuries. More than 800,000 non-fatal work-related injuries required medical attention. Workers under the age of 25 require emergency room visits twice as often as older workers.