With temperatures in the U.S. nearing or reaching triple digits in most states at this point in the summer, the White House issued a fact sheet July 20 including statistics on OSHA’s heat-related inspections for 2022.
The agency has “already conducted 564 heat-related inspections, which are focused on over 70 high-risk industries across 43 states,” as part of a national emphasis program (NEP) that began in April.
“On days when the heat index is 80°F or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists are engaging in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job,” the White House fact sheet states.
Area offices monitoring local heat warnings, advisories
The NEP is directed at indoor and outdoor heat-related hazards with OSHA generating random inspection lists and conducting inspections from those lists without advance warning, according to law firm Jackson Lewis.
Seventy high risk industries are targeted by the NEP, including manufacturing, wholesalers, automotive repair, retail, bakeries, sawmills, landscaping and construction.
OSHA area offices are monitoring National Weather Service heat warnings and advisories for their locale and then conducting heat inspections on those days.
The agency is also still working on its “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention” rulemaking.
Recommendations for heat illness prevention plans
Jackson Lewis recommends that employers should have a heat illness prevention plan that:
- ensures new workers or those returning from a break in employment are acclimatized and gradually build up to a full workday in the heat
- monitors ambient temperatures and levels of work exertion at the worksite, categorizing physical exertion levels as low, moderate and heavy
- provides access to cool water for hydration and ensures workers are drinking enough fluids
- ensures workers have sufficient water and rest breaks
- provides access to shade for rest periods and air conditioning or other cooling systems if feasible
- considers using a buddy system to have workers monitor one another for heat illness symptoms, and
- trains workers to identify the signs and stages of heat illness, how to report signs and symptoms, when first aid is required and when and how to contact emergency personnel.