Employers have a duty to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths in both indoor and outdoor workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), on October 27, 2021, published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Setting. Currently, OSHA does not have a specific standard for hazardous heat conditions and this action begins the process to consider a heat-specific workplace rule. The rulemaking effort is designed to protect both indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat.
The ANPRM will initiate a comment period to collect perspectives and expertise on topics, such as heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring. During this process, OSHA will solicit information on issues that it can consider in developing the standard, including the scope of the standard and the types of controls that might be required. The scope of the inquiry will include:
OSHA will also seek additional information about the extent and nature of hazardous heat in the workplace and the nature and effectiveness of interventions and controls used to prevent heat-related illness.
Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related workplace hazards. Excessive heat exacerbates existing health problems like asthma, kidney failure, and heart disease, and can cause heat stroke and even death if not treated properly and promptly. Workers in both outdoor and indoor work settings without adequate climate-controlled environments are at risk of hazardous heat exposure. In response to this fact, a nationwide enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards has been initiated by OSHA. The agency is also developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections and forming a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group to provide a better understanding of challenges and identify and share best practices to protect workers.
You may read the Federal Register notice for submission instructions. Comments are now being accepted. The comment period opened October 27th, 2021. The comment window closes on December 27th, 2021. You may submit comments at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal and refer to Docket No. OSHA-2021-0009.