Pi at Work

Posted on by Frank Hearl, PE


PiDAYIt’s Pi Day.  Do you use π  (3.14) in the course of your work? If so, please tell us how in the comment section below.

You are probably aware that the traditional way to celebrate this holiday, which also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, is by eating pie.  As you enjoy your delicious desert know that the workers who bake these treats can face hazards in their workplaces.  See related blogs on hazards to doughnut bakers and hazards to workers in  food manufacturing. And, if you have a cup of coffee with your pie, know that coffee roasters also face new respiratory hazards.


We may be stretching a bit trying to find a workplace angle for Pi Day.  We know it’s out there– we just need your help finding it.


Frank Hearl, PE, is the NIOSH Economics Program Manager and the Chief of Staff in the NIOSH Office of the Director.

Posted on by Frank Hearl, PE

6 comments on “Pi at Work”

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    As a health inspector, we often times measure room capacity and to determine the area of a room, we gotta break out that geometry lesson and pi to determine the safe amount of people in an area.

    Well, everyone can see mathematics in action in NIOSH’s new ladder safety app. In general, we could point out the role of engineering in worker safety and health, from designing out hazards through Prevention through Design to engineering controls. And in thinking about circles and wheels, rollover protection is critical in agriculture, mining, and many other industries. Finally, back to pies: worker safety and health information is often conveyed through pie charts.

    (πd^2)/4 a classic formula for an area of a circle. Comes in handy when figuring out flow rates for indoor air quality and ventilation. Also a great formula if you ever find yourself taking the CIH exam. I promise you’ll never forget if afterwards.

    The earliest known official or large-scale celebration of Pi Day was organized by Larry Shaw in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium,[6] where Shaw worked as a physicist,[7] with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies.[8] The Exploratorium continues to hold Pi Day celebrations.[9]

    On March 12, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution (HRES 224),[4] recognizing March 14, 2009 as National Pi Day.[10] For Pi Day 2010, Google presented a Google Doodle celebrating the holiday, with the word Google laid over images of circles and pi symbols.[11]

    The entire month of March 2014 (3/14) was observed by some as “Pi Month”.[12][13] In the year 2015, Pi Day had special significance on 3/14/15 (mm/dd/yy date format) at 9:26:53 a.m. and also at p.m., with the date and time representing the first 10 digits of π.[14] Pi Day of 2016 is also significant because its mm/dd/yy represents pi rounded to the first five digits.

    Pi Day has been observed in many ways, including eating pie, throwing pies and discussing the significance of the number π, due to a pun based on the words “pi” and “pie” being homophones in English (pronunciation: /paɪ/), as well as pies tending to be round, and thus related to π.

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Page last reviewed: August 15, 2016
Page last updated: August 15, 2016