DOL wants you to know ... there's an app for that

They may never compete with the popularity of Google Maps, but the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is getting in on the smartphone apps game. First, the DOL launched a mobile Timesheet app in May to help employees independently track their hours. Since then, they've rolled out an OSHA Heat Safety Tool and a Labor Statistics app.

While somewhat controversial (because it relies on the accuracy of the user), the Timesheet app lets employees track the hours they've worked and determine the hours they're owed. The app also provides links to web pages of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division. Ultimately, it could make employers more accountable for maintaining accurate employment records, especially if their records are called into question in a Wage and Hour Division investigation. The DOL is quick to emphasize, however, that the app is designed as a reference tool only, and that it doesn't include every possible situation that comes up in the workplace.

The OSHA Heat Safety Tool lets you calculate the heat index for your worksite and display a risk level to workers, based on the results. At the same time, you can get reminders about the proper measures for protecting workers from heat-related illnesses -- from scheduling rest breaks to monitoring each other for signs of heat distress.

And finally, the Labor Statistics app is a great little resource for perusing the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employment and Training Administration, including Unemployment Rate, Consumer Price Index, Average Hourly Earnings and more.

It remains to be seen how popular these apps will be among employers, but the DOL deserves credit for entering this technological arena. As Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says,
"The Labor Department is continuously exploring how to share important information using the fastest, simplest, most wide-reaching means available ..."


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