On “heat priority days” when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, employers have a duty to prevent heat-related illnesses and death in both indoor and outdoor workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is initiating enhanced measures to better protect workers in hot environments and reduce the dangers of exposure to ambient heat.
To tackle the health and safety issues surrounding hot work environments, OSHA is launching a four-pronged approach to protecting at-risk workers across multiple industries:
- Implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards
- Developing a national emphasis program on heat inspections
- Launching a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard
- Forming a National Advisory Committee
Site inspections on heat priority days will be carried out by OSHA area offices to ensure that employers are following the established heat safety guidelines.
- Employers should use a combination of intervention methods, including encouraging or mandating that employees regularly take breaks for rest, shade and supplying water.
- Employers should train employees on heat-related illnesses, how to spot common symptoms, and what to do when a worker suspects a heat-related illness is occurring.
- Employers should also take periodic measurements to determine employees’ heat exposure and provide protection to employees from heat as necessary
Phillip DeBauche, Director, Environmental and Technical, writes about the Council’s environmental and HSE efforts. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights industry practices, workforce development, Council activities and more.