OSHA Heat App and NIOSH Noise App – My review

Having a cell phone to take calls while traveling was a big deal 20 years ago. Now, these devices have become part of our lives and they serve many uses, well beyond simply taking a call. OSHA and NIOSH have hopped into the cell phone application development mode for these devices. Two applications have caught my interest; one developed by OSHA and one by NIOSH.
The OSHA application deals focuses on heat illness from outdoor work, a critical issue in California. Cal/OSHA requires employers who have employees working outdoors, the track temperature so that they can implement required controls to comply with the Heat Illness Standard. I thought this was a pretty good idea so I tried it. The app calculates a “heat index” and then displays a “risk level”. I was with a couple people that also had this app on their smart phone. Interestingly, the three of us received different readings even though we were in the same location. Although I thought, conceptually, this was a great idea for supervisors to track temperatures in the areas they are working, I found this app to be marginally useful, at best. If you perform outdoor work and need to comply with the Heat Illness Standard, you can use the OSHA app but understand it is not very accurate and therefore you may need secondary sources of information.
Recently, NIOSH announced a noise monitoring app. I actually had a noise monitoring app on my phone that I was impressed with. I found that it tracked our noise meter readings very closely. But, I wanted to test this new NIOSH app. I must say I was duly impressed. The NIOSH noise app is designed for workplace measurements and monitoring for OSHA compliance. The noise app I had on my phone did not have this ability. The NIOSH noise app offers many features including measurements that can be “A” weighted, provides for fast and slow response (time weighting), and even allows one to change exchange rates (3 or 5 dB), along with other features. NIOSH gets a gold star for developing this app and I would highly recommend it to anyone that needs to take workplace noise readings and doesn’t have immediate access to a sound level meter