Department of Labor Looks To Protect Employees From Extreme Heat

The proposed rule, which includes indoor work settings, would protect some 36 million employees.

OSHA points to kitchens and other sources with indoor heat-generating appliances when describing industries where employees have suffered heat-related illnesses.

Last week the Department of Labor posted a proposed rule aimed at protecting millions of employees from significant health risks of extreme heat. The department says record-breaking temperatures across the nation have increased the risks employees face on the job, especially in summer months.

According to the release, if finalized, the proposed rule would help protect some 36 million employees in indoor and outdoor work settings and substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses and deaths in the workplace.

The proposed rule would require employers to do the following:

  • Develop an injury and illness prevention plan to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat
  • Evaluate heat risks and—when heat increases risks to employees—implement requirements for drinking water, rest breaks and control of indoor heat
  • Create a plan to protect new or returning workers unaccustomed to working in high heat conditions
  • Provide training, have procedures to respond if an employee is experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness and take immediate action to help an employee experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat emergency.

The department encourages the public to submit written comments on the rule once it is published in the Federal Register. It expects a public hearing after the close of the written comment period. More information will be available on submitting comments when the rule is published.

On a related note, Cal/OSHA continues to work on its heat illness prevention efforts, part of which demands indoor places of employment not equal or exceed 82°F.


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