Every year, the Department of Labor produces vast amounts of data on the institutions and organizations within its jurisdiction. This data comes from both the department itself and from external organizations who are required by law to keep certain employment records.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted more than 90,000 workplace safety and health inspections last year, including 50,000 by the agency’s State Plan partners. The primary purpose of those inspections is to find potential hazards in the workplace and fix them before a worker is hurt, but the resulting data might be useful to the public in other ways, too.
Based on the principles of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative, which promotes transparency, participation and collaboration across the government, a lot of the department’s data is available for public use, but in its raw form it can be unwieldy and tough to navigate.
That’s why we put the question to you.
Challenge.gov is a platform that empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges. Our informACTION challenge was launched on the platform last July. We were looking for innovative ways to increase public awareness of the laws enforced by DOL, as well as ensure fair and safe workplaces by utilizing inspection and compliance information from the hotel, motel, restaurant and retail industries to help workers and consumers take educated action.
Last October, the winner of the challenge was announced, and lo and behold it was clear we had a pretty good consumer protection product on our hands.
The Eat. Shop. Sleep. app uses the department’s data for a tool that helps consumers make informed decisions about the hotels, motels, restaurants, and retail outlets they choose to patronize. More and more, consumers recognize that the choices they make can affect individuals and communities at any point along the supply chain, and socially responsible consumers want to make sure that the products they purchase don’t cause any harm. Fair-trade products, sweatshop-free products, environmentally sound products – we see them everywhere because these considerations have become an important part of a consumer’s decision-making.
With the Eat. Shop. Sleep. app, consumers can now find out about worker safety and wage violation records when they consider whether or not they wish to be a customer at a particular business. The app helps support the social decision-making of consumers, and consumers can help the workers in their communities by rewarding businesses that treat them fairly. In a lot of ways, that’s what community is all about.
The app is currently available for download for free for iPhone and iPad on iTunes.