For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a National Emphasis Program to protect workers from heat illness and injuries. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections “before workers suffer completely preventable injuries, illnesses or, even worse, fatalities.”
Heat illness affects thousands of indoor and outdoor workers each year and can tragically lead to death. Reducing workplace heat-related illnesses and injuries is a top priority for the Department of Labor, and the agency is using the National Emphasis Program as a way to immediately improve enforcement and compliance efforts, while continuing long-term work to establish a heat illness prevention rule. These efforts are part of a larger, interagency Biden-Harris administration effort to protect workers and communities from extreme heat and rising temperatures resulting from climate change.
As part of the program, OSHA will initiate inspections in over 70 high-risk industries in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning or advisory for a local area. On days when the heat index is 80o F or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists will engage in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job. Inspectors will look for and address heat hazards during inspections, regardless of whether the industry is targeted in the NEP.
Last fall, in the Biden-Harris administration’s first year in office, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to initiate the rulemaking process towards a federal heat standard and is committed to using all tools at its disposal to reduce heat hazards through a combination of enforcement, outreach and compliance assistance.
TPM has a dedicated Heat Safety Training Program available for all member companies. Please feel free to reach out to the office to schedule a training for your staff at 509-535-4646.