On April 8, 2022 OSHA launched a national targeted program to protect workers from heat-related illness. A National Emphasis Program like this typically determines the prioritization of inspections.
On June 14th, OSHA Region 5 issued a reminder to the Great Lakes region's employers that workers need protection from dangers of heat illness: indoors and outdoors.
They ask employers to have workers drink water every 15 minutes, take frequent rest breaks in shade, have an emergency plan ready to respond when a worker shows sign of heat-related illness, train workers on the hazards of heat exposure and to allow workers to build tolerance for working in heat.
On the last point, OSHA has found that:
Almost half of heat-related deaths occur on a worker's very first day on the job
Over 70% of heat-related deaths occur during a worker's first week
On October 27, 2021 OSHA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. This was a significant step toward creating a federal heat standard.
The courts currently hold employers liable for heat-related hazards through OSHA's general duty clause. The clause requires employers to provide their employees with a place of employment that "is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees."
Heat stress killed 815 US workers and seriously injured more than 70,000 workers from 1992 through 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Heat Stress Resources
- OSHA First Aid for Heat Illness
- OSHA Guide for Employers to Carry Out Heat Safety Training for Workers
- NIOSH - Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments
- Remembering Tim: A lift lost to heat illness at work
- Toolbox Talk: Heat Stress - Basics
- Toolbox Talk: Heat Stress Prevention - Heat Illness
- Toolbox Talk: 5 Minute Heat Stress Prevention
- For additional heat stress resources, including a Heat Illness Plan Template, please reach out Mike.Paddock@rrins.com