OSHA Launches New Program to Help Prevent Worker Heat Injury and Illness

OSHA Launches New Program to Help Prevent Worker Heat Injury and Illness

The program is a first-ever for the nation, coming months after OSHA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

A new program to protect workers from heat injury and illness was announced by US Secretary Marty Walsh and Vice President Kamala Harris this week.

According to a press release, under the program, the National Emphasis Program,OSHA will be inspecting 70 high-risk industry workplaces during heat warnings and advisories. On days when the temperature is at a minimum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, OSHA will reach out to employers and provide technical assistance to help workers stay safe in high heat.

In addition, under the On-Site Consultation Program, OSHA will assist employers in creating guidelines for addressing heat injury and illness.

“Our goal is to make it safe for workers in hot indoor and outdoor environments, so that they can return home safe and healthy at the end of each day,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in the press release. “Working together, we can ensure workers know their rights and employers meet their obligations in order to protect workers from the growing dangers of extreme heat.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2011 to 2019, 344 workers died from environmental heat exposure. Over 40 percent had been working in construction, repair or cleaning, and 15 percent had been “conducting materials handling operations.” In 2019, 43 workers died from heat exposure.

In 2021, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to start the rulemaking process for a federal heat standard. For more information, check out our additional resources including our podcast.

OSHA is hosting a public stakeholder meeting on May 3, 2022, to discuss its initiatives to protect workers from heat injury and illness. The virtual event starts at 12 PM and will give people the opportunity to leave comments. You can register here.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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