OSHA is initiating enhanced measures to better protect workers in hot environments and reduce the dangers of exposure to ambient heat.
OSHA reports that “Despite widespread under-reporting, 43 workers died from heat illness in 2019, and at least 2,410 others suffered serious injuries and illnesses. Increasing heat precipitated by climate change can cause lost productivity and work hours resulting in large wage losses for workers.”
As a result, OSHA is developing:
- A new enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards
- A National Emphasis Program launching in 2022
- A rulemaking process rolling out in October 2021 to develop a future workplace heat standard
- A National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group
Employers can expect increased OSHA inspections when the heat index exceeds 80°F. General industry, construction, agriculture and maritime are all part of the initiative and it applies to indoor and outdoor work environments during any season.
Even though temperatures are dropping, it’s not too soon to get ready for a potential OSHA inspection. Make sure you have policies and procedures in place that:
- Encourage workers to take regular water and rest breaks in the shade when it’s hot
- Cover heat related illness training
- Require periodic measurements to determine workers’ heat exposure.
Plus, there will be a comment period for the advance notice of proposed rulemaking so be sure to share your opinion.