April 7, 2022

Federal OSHA Makes Heat Illness Top Priority

In October 2021 the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. Publication of the Notice signals the beginning of OSHA’s rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard.

Public comment on the Notice was extended through the end of January 2022 where input on strategies such as Heat Illness Prevention Plans and Programs, Acclimatization, Planning and Responding to Heat Illness Emergencies was sought. Comments made by OSHA’s Permanent Assistant Secretary in early March 2022 prioritizing the agencies heat standard as second only to its COVID-19 strategy evidence its commitment to improving current protections afforded under the General Duty Clause.[i]  

The Notice references potential gaps in existing standards (e.g., failure of current standards to specify how much potable water must be made available and the failure to specifically identify hazardous heat for training and PPE purposes) signaling OSHA’s attempts to address not only these gaps, but also various work arrangements such as an employer’s’ use of contingent workers and multi-employer worksites.

Publication of the Notice has no impact on current OSHA enforcement efforts regarding heat safety and health-related topics.

Members with questions about heat injury and illness compliance should contact Western Growers.

[i] OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires employers to provide employment and places of employment that are free of recognized hazards, including heat exposure.