President Barack Obama’s Department of Labor launched a new Smartphone app last week that tells outdoor workers when it’s hot and humid outside.
The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new “Heat Safety Tool,” designed for outdoor workers who are already outside, tells workers the temperature and humidity level of where they’re at. From that data, the app calculates the “heat index” and “risk level” for workers in the given location.
Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government, the group that first criticized OSHA’s new “Heat Safety Tool” as a waste of taxpayer money, says the app doesn’t provide workers with any useful information that isn’t already common knowledge. Manning said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is using taxpayer money to state the obvious to outdoor workers: it’s hot in the summer.
“Next thing we know, Solis’s Labor Department will come out with an app that tells swimmers that water is wet,” Manning said. “This is absurd. What a waste.”
The “Heat Safety Tool” app provides a color-coded “risk level” scale, ranging from yellow or “lower” risk to red or “very high to extreme” risk. When the risk-level is “lower” the app recommends workers “drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty.” When it’s “very high to extreme,” the app says workers should “establish a water drinking schedule” of about four cups per hour and “set up cool, shaded rest areas.”
The app also tells users how to recognize heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash.
ALG’s Nathan Mehrens told The Daily Caller that the Obama administration’s Labor department has a history of developing questionable Smartphone apps, and ones that provide factually incorrect data. Mehrens points to an app the Wage and Hour division released a few months ago that incorrectly calculated workers’ hours and pay. “We know for a fact that the other app had some technical issues with it and it could potentially short workers time and things they were entitled to,” Mehrens said. “As far as I know, that app has not been fixed.”
It’s unclear how much taxpayer money the DOL spent developing this app. Spokespeople for OSHA have not responded to TheDC’s requests for comment or details on the cost. (RELATED: Labor Department awards millions of dollars in college grants for scarce ‘green jobs’)
Mehrens said if the DOL made the app in-house, it would be “extremely difficult” to find out how much taxpayer cash it spent on it. If it contracted the app development to the private sector, Mehrens said that information would be attainable via a Freedom of Information Act request.
OSHA spokespeople contacted by TheDC have not answered whether or not the DOL developed the app in-house or contracted the development to the private sector.