OSHA’s New Regulations to Protect Workers from Summer Heat

The National Emphasis Program is set to prevent injuries and fatalities related to summer heat. Heat exposure is an increasingly dangerous jobsite hazard which killed 344 workers between 2011-2019 with 42% (144) of those workers in the construction field.

“Tragically, the three-year average of workplace deaths caused by heat has doubled since the early 1990s,” said Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “From farm workers in California to construction workers in Texas and warehouse workers in Pennsylvania, heat illness — exacerbated by our climate’s rising temperatures — presents a growing hazard for millions of workers.”

OSHA will increase its inspections of jobsites when heat warnings or advisories are issued by the National Weather Service. When the heat index tops 80⁰ F, inspectors will try to ensure worker safety. 

“Our goal is to make it safe for workers in hot indoor and outdoor environments, so that they can return home safe and healthy at the end of each day,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for OSHA. “Working together, we can ensure workers know their rights and employers meet their obligations in order to protect workers from the growing dangers of extreme heat.”

There are many ways to help support your workers during the summer months.

  • Take the weather into account when planning projects so you have downtime for very hot days.
  • Start days earlier in the warmer months.
  • Ensure your workers have a steady supply of water.
  • Institute breaks in the shade for hot days.
  • Safety training is essential so that workers can recognize the symptoms of heat illness or heat stress in themselves and others. The training should also provide guidelines as to what to do when workers experience symptoms.

You can download the new programs in .pdf form here.

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