4 The record articles

OSHA Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings – Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making

Posted: December 20th, 2021

Authors: Lori C. 

On October 27, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has initiated rulemaking to protect indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat through the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) – Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings.  The proposed rule is in Stage 1, the preliminary stage, of seven OSHA rulemaking stages.  This is the first step of a long process, with the rulemaking process often taking as long as 5 to 10 years for a final regulation to be published.

Although OSHA does not currently have a specific regulation covering heat stress hazards, the “General Duty Clause,” Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), requires each employer to, “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  OSHA has previously used the General Duty Clause to cite employers that have allowed employees to be exposed to potential serious physical harm from excessively hot work environments.  Due to an average of 38 fatalities per year from heat related illness as reported from 2011 to 2019 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, OSHA has published the OSHA Heat Initiative: Inspection Guidance which employers should implement to remain in compliance with the OSHA General Duty Clause and to protect employees from the dangers of working in hot environments.  Implementation should include development of a heat exposure plan, including acclimatization, work-rest schedules, access to shade and water, and training.  OSHA also encourages employers to download the OSHA-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Heat Safety App, which provides information on the local heat index, risk related to the heat index, and control measures to institute based upon risk.

Note that as OSHA-approved State Plans, California, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington have instituted hazardous heat regulations with specific requirements that differ per state.  Of the four state-specific regulations, Minnesota differs because it does not include requirements for training.  The four state-specific regulations contain the similar requirement for the employer to provide at least 1 quart of water per hour for each employee and an emergency response plan.  Similar to the OSHA Heat Initiative, the State Plans also emphasize the importance of acclimatization for workers and access to shaded break areas.

In addition to the Heat Initiative, OSHA plans to issue a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat-related safety efforts in 2022; NEPs are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on hazards and high-hazard industries.  The NEP will serve as a basis for targeted enforcement to help assure worker health and safety with respect to heat injury and illness.

Let your voice be heard and provide comments on the ANPRM at by clicking the blue Comment button at the top left side of the page.  For your submission, make sure to include the agency name and docket number (OSHA, Docket No. OSHA-2021-0009).  Comments are due by January 26, 2022.  ALL4 will continue to monitor this regulatory item and will report back periodically regarding the rulemaking process and is available to assist you in preparing comments on the regulatory action.  If you have any questions in the interim, please reach out to Lori Chu, CIH, at (909) 477-7131 or lchu@all4inc.com.

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