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OSHA proposed heat rule moves closer to publication


Photo: Virginia Department of Transportation/Flickr

Washington — OSHA’s proposed standard on protecting workers from excessive heat is undergoing a final review, according to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs website.

The proposal was sent to OIRA on June 11. It’s unclear how long the office will take to complete the review – one of the final steps in the regulatory process.

In May, OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health unanimously approved the proposed rule. The rule, focused on both indoor and outdoor work settings, was also examined by a Small Business Advocacy Review panel.

While the proposal is being reviewed, OSHA can cite employers under the General Duty Clause. Proving violations of the clause, though, requires a four-part test. The agency is also continuing its National Emphasis Program for outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards, which began in 2022.

“Workers at risk of heat illness need a new rule to protect workers from heat hazards,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in a press release. “OSHA is working aggressively to develop a new regulation that keeps workers safe from the dangers of heat.

“As we move through the required regulatory process for creating these protections, OSHA will use all of its existing tools to hold employers responsible when they fail to protect workers from known hazards such as heat, including our authority to stop employers from exposing workers to conditions which pose an imminent danger.”

The agency said it’s prioritizing inspections for agricultural employers who have temporary, nonimmigrant H-2A workers for seasonal labor.

“These workers face unique vulnerabilities, including potential language barriers, less control over their living and working conditions, and possible lack of acclimatization, and are at high risk of hazardous heat exposure,” OSHA says.

The agency reminds employers of the need for a heat safety and health plan, which should include provisions for acclimatization, water, rest and shade.

“Employees who are new or returning to a high heat workplace should be allowed time to gradually get used to working in hot temperatures,” OSHA says. “Workers and managers should also be trained so they can identify and help prevent heat illness themselves.”

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