OSHA issued a new heat hazard alert to remind employers of their obligation to protect workers from heat-related injuries and illnesses in both outdoor and indoor settings.
OSHA’s new heat hazard alert:
- highlights what employers can and should be doing now to protect employees
- ensures employees are aware of their rights, including protections against retaliation
- highlights steps OSHA is currently taking to protect workers, and
- directs employers, employees and the public to crucial OSHA resources, including guidance and fact sheets on heat.
Agency stepping up enforcement efforts via heat NEP
The agency is also stepping up its enforcement efforts where workers are exposed to heat hazards, especially in high-risk industries such as construction and agriculture.
These new enforcement efforts will use OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on heat, which was announced in April 2022. That will allow the agency to focus enforcement efforts in geographic areas and industries with the most vulnerable workers.
Heat hazard standard still in the works
Workplace heat exposures have claimed the lives of 436 people since 2011, with an annual average of 38 deaths from 2011 to 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Further, an average of 2,700 cases involving heat illnesses lead to days lost at work, which places an additional economic burden on workers and employers.
To better address the hazard, OSHA published its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in October 2021. The proposed standard is in the pre-rule stage with a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel to be initiated in August 2023.