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OHSA's Program On Outdoor, Indoor Heat-Related Hazards
As we head into the summer months, its important that employers keep in mind the dangers brought about by rising temperatures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational heat from 2011 to 2019. Additionally over 3,500 heat related injuries and illnesses are reported each year.
In April of 2022 OSHA announced a
National Emphasis Program (NEP)
that focuses on the
prevention of occupational heat-related illness
. Under the NEP, OSHA will proactively increase outreach and enforcement in targeted high-risk industries, triggered by heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher and on days that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory. On heat priority days OSHA field staff will provide proactive compliance assistance for employers seeking to develop plans to keep their employees safe from the dangers of heat illness. Heat hazard inspections may also be conducted during non-related inspections.
The OSHA NEP for heat-related illness targets over 70 high-risk industries based on BLS data on heat-related illness and employee days off, elevated employee deaths or hospitalizations, and highest number of heat-related violations under the general duty clause 5(a)(1) from 1/1/2017 thru 12/31/2021.
What can employers do to prevent heat-related illness?
Provide workers with water/electrolyte replacement drinks , rest and shade.
Set up cooling stations with shade, cooled air, evaporative cooling, air flow, etc.
Allow new or returning workers to slowly acclimate to the working conditions by gradually increasing workload each day in hot conditions. Shorter shifts, frequent breaks, job rotation, etc.
Provide workers with personal cooling equipment and apparel such as cooling towels, headwear, cooling vests, and breathable clothing .
Educate employees and supervisors on the signs of heat-related illness.
Plan for emergencies should heat-related illness occur.
Heat-related illness is a very serious but preventable occupational hazard. Education on the risks and prevention of heat-related illness for employers and employees alike, along with foresight and investment into what it takes to provide a safer workplace in high risk areas, will go a long way to reducing or eliminating the hazards.
If you need any additional information or would like support in finding out how you can make your workplace safer, call us at 1-800-292-9309.
Tim Lightner, Vice President of Product & New Business Development
OSHA Fact Sheet- NEP on Heat Hazards
OSHA Safety and Health Topics- Working in Outdoor and Indoor Heat Environments
OSHA Instruction- NEP on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards