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How Mobile Apps Can Improve Mining Safety

Mining is a dangerous industry, but here's how mobile apps can improve mining safety.Mining is a dangerous industry, but here's how mobile apps can improve mining safety.

Mining is a dangerous industry according to the United States Department of Labor. In 2017, for example, coal mining deaths surged to 15, a year after its safest year ever in 2016 with only eight deaths.

Every year there are deaths in other kinds of mines as well, nearly 250 in mines of all kinds including coal between 2011 and 2017, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. And that doesn’t take into account lung disease (black lung), hearing loss and ongoing health issues that miners face from their occupation.

Safety training and technology help is on the way. Increasingly, mobile apps are being used to cut down on fatalities and injuries, and help make sure that miners don’t face the kinds of hazardous conditions that can affect their health. The Canadian Mining Journal notes that traditionally, mining safety programs have relied on paper forms, Excel and manual processes. But it concludes, “For mine operators seeking to enhance worker and site-safety reporting, and compliance, switching from paper forms and Excel spreadsheets to mobile apps offers several key benefits.”

Particularly important, the journal says, are the use of mobile apps rather than paper for site inspections. Paper is limited to text-only input, can be misread, and using it can take days for important safety information to get to the right person.

Mobile apps, the journal says, “ensure inspections are being done correctly and in accordance with company and industry regulations. Mobile inspection apps also allow for multimedia (photos, etc.) to more easily report complicated issues and provide visual proof as needed.” And they can get safety information to the right person fast with a swipe or a tap.

The journal notes that mobile apps can also improve mine self-auditing programs, such as for fire prevention, handling electrical dangers and more. These apps could record amounts of coal dust, distribution of hearing protection and more. It concludes, “For mine operators grappling with how to manage worker and site-safety compliance, and reporting cost-effectively and efficiently, mobile apps provide a compelling approach relative to paper forms and manual processes.”

One potential issue with the use of mobile apps for mine is lack of WIFI and cell signal underground. But Sudeep Pasricha, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Colorado State University, has done research to develop underground communications networks that are more reliable and safer than those used currently. He notes such networks “could not only improve the safety of hundreds of thousands of American miners, but also offer new opportunities for communications and improving human safety in a variety of extreme environments.”

Another solution to the WIFI connection problem is to write mobile safety apps that work offline, even without an internet connection. Alpha Anywhere is ideally suited for writing them for remote areas with no internet access, or deep in mines that have no internet access. For more details, read why Infoworld says Alpha Anywhere writes the best offline apps.

Beyond its offline capabilities, Alpha Anywhere is a great tool for building safety apps. Many Alpha Software customers are building them in oil and gas, construction, utilities, mining and manufacturing, some of the most dangerous industries in the world. Using Alpha Anywhere’s mobile optimized forms capabilities, you can easily develop industrial safety apps. In only a few minutes, you can build a form-based app to enhance worker safety.

Protect your mining workers with the Workplace Wellness App.

Alpha Software takes developing safety apps seriously. We offer a safety and health app template. For more details about mining apps and safety apps, see my blog post, Industrial Safety Apps - The Future Of Worker Safety.

The best mining apps work offline, are optimized for one-handed data entry (i.e., speech-to-text), leverage corporate processing power, and tie into systems of record to grab critical information for employees and share information with the rest of the organization more quickly. With mobile apps, not only will data collection and sharing improve, but utilizing data to make better and faster business decisions will dramatically impact safety.

Alpha Software helps mining companies build maintenance, safety, and accident reporting apps that capture and deliver critical data. With Alpha TransForm, you can easily build cross-platform business apps with heavy processing power in minutes that work offline and offer the latest in mobile data capture. Your apps can connect into your existing business systems, processes and data investments; making workers more productive, and streamlining business activities and alerts. For power users, TransForm can be programmed to meet more complex workflow, integration or security requirements. Learn more about Alpha Software mining apps.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.

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