OSHA Announces Expanded Measures to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

On September 22, the White House announced enhanced and expanded efforts being taken by the U.S. Department of Labor to combat the hazards associated with extreme heat – both indoors and outdoors. In response to concerns over warmer working conditions, OSHA implemented an intervention and enforcement initiative designed to prevent and protect workers from heat-related illness and deaths. The initiative prioritizes heat-related interventions and inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80° Fahrenheit. OSHA area directors across the nation are expected to institute the following:

  • Prioritize inspections of heat-related complaints, referrals, and employer-reported illnesses and initiate onsite investigations where possible;
  • Instruct health and safety officers to conduct intervention (providing the agency’s heat poster/wallet card, discuss the importance of easy access to cool water, cooling areas, and acclimatization) or opening an inspection when they observe employees performing strenuous work in hot conditions;
  • Expand the scope of other inspections to address heat-related hazards where worksite conditions or other evidence indicates these hazards may be present

The agency is also working to establish a National Emphasis Program on heat hazard cases, which will target high-risk industries and focus the agency’s resources and staff time on heat inspections.

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