July 3, 2024

OSHA Issues Proposed Rule for Heat Illness

On July 2, 2024, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its Proposed Rule on heat illness and injury prevention in an effort to substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace.  

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Excessive workplace heat can lead to heat stroke and even death. While heat hazards impact workers in many industries, workers in the agricultural industry are especially vulnerable to the hazards of heat exposure. 

OSHA’s newly proposed rule would require employers to develop a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (HIIPP) to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat. Among other things, the HIIPP would require employers to: 

  • Evaluate heat risks and — when heat increases risks to workers — implement requirements for drinking water, rest breaks and control of indoor heat.  
  • Develop and implement a written HIIPP (for those with 10 or more workers) with site specific information including how to protect new or returning workers unaccustomed to working in high heat conditions. 
  • Develop procedures to respond if a worker is experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness, including taking immediate action to help a worker experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat emergency. 
  • Provide training at specific intervals: 
  • Initial training to all employees. 
  • Supervisor training on policies and procedures and response protocols. 
  • Annual refresher training for all employees; and  
  • Supplemental training when new job tasks are introduced, or the employers’ policies/procedures change.  

Employers are encouraged to submit written comments on the rule once it is published in the Federal Register and to participate in public hearings after the close of the written comment period.  

In the interim, OSHA will continue to conduct heat-related inspections under its National Emphasis Program – Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards, launched in 2022. The program inspects workplaces with the highest exposures to heat-related hazards proactively to prevent workers from suffering injury, illness or death needlessly.  

Employers should also note that the agency is prioritizing programmed inspections in agricultural industries that employ temporary, nonimmigrant H-2A workers for seasonal labor.