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.