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US Department of Labor Proposes a Federal Heat Standard for Workers

This week the US Department of Labor announced a proposed rule for “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings.”  This is a significant action toward establishing a federal heat standard for workers, with potential major implications for Energy Workforce companies.

The primary objective is to prevent and decrease the incidence of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities due to hazardous heat. The proposed standard would encompass all employers performing both outdoor and indoor work across general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture sectors under OSHA’s jurisdiction. Employers would be mandated to develop a comprehensive plan to assess and mitigate heat hazards in the workplace. This standard aims to delineate employer responsibilities and outline the measures needed to protect employees from dangerous heat exposure effectively. The regulation specifically addresses instances where workers are potentially exposed to heat for longer than 15 minutes in any 60-minute period over the following heat limits:

High heat trigger: heat index of 90°F or a wet bulb globe temperature equal to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (LINK: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2016-106/pdfs/2016-106.pdf)

Initial heat trigger: heat index of 80°F or a wet bulb globe temperature equal to the NIOSH Recommended Alert Limit.

A draft of the proposed rule can be found HERE (https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/Heat-NPRM-Final-Reg-Text.pdf ) along with the formal announcement from the Department of Labor HERE (https://www.osha.gov/heat-exposure/rulemaking ). Once the official proposed rule is posted to the Federal Register, organizations will have a comment period to provide input and feedback on this proposal.  Energy Workforce plans to organize a working group to provide comments on this regulation, if your company is interested in participating in this working group please reach out to Energy Workforce Senior Director Government Affairs Deidre Kohlrus.


Deidre Almstead Kohlrus, Senior Director Government Affairs, writes about industry-specific policies for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.
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