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Attorneys general petition OSHA for emergency temporary standard on workplace heat

Photo: Sunbelt Rentals/elcosh

Sacramento, CA — Attorneys general from seven states are calling on OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from heat exposure.

In a petition sent to OSHA administrator Doug Parker on Feb. 9, the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania call for an ETS that applies when the heat index reaches 80° F. The rule, they add, should include provisions for water, rest breaks, shade, acclimatization plans, and temperature and workload monitoring.

The petition notes that California, Oregon and Washington have each issued an ETS on workplace heat. In addition, Colorado and Minnesota have regulations on occupational heat exposure. Maryland and Nevada could soon join that list, as they’ve passed laws requiring the promulgation of rules for workplace heat.

OSHA’s website states that the agency is, under limited conditions, authorized to issue an ETS when it determines that “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to protect them.” Since 1983, OSHA has issued two ETSs – both related to COVID-19. One of those, related to vaccination and testing, was stayed by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision in January 2022. 

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