OSHA to Develop Heat Standard for Employees

October 4th, 2021 by Luly Hernandez

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is creating an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards and launched a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard. The Agency is also forming an advisory committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group which it says will provide better understanding of challenges and to identify and share best practices to protect workers.

OSHA area directors will institute priority inspections heat-related complaints, referrals and employer-reported illnesses; instruct compliance safety and health officers to conduct interventions or open inspections when work in hot conditions is observed; and to expand the scope of other inspections to address heat-related hazards.

In October, OSHA will move toward the creation of a federal heat standard and will issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings.

A newly-formed National Heat Safety Coalition says that 50%-70% of deaths outdoors, including in the workplace, at sports events or for home improvements, happen in the first few days of high temperatures. Indoors, heat illness is a problem where facilities are not air-conditioned and equipment produces even more heat.

Addressing risk factors that increase heat-related illness in the workplace will also be a goal of the coalition.

Rebecca Barnabi contributed to this report.

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