OSHA Announces Steps to Protect Workers from Heat

OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Improved Heat Safety

Now is the time to prepare for the hazards from summer heat waves and heat-related workplace inspections from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Under the National Emphasis Program (NEP), OSHA aims to eliminate or reduce worker exposures to occupational heat-related illnesses and injuries across industries both indoors and outdoors.  OSHA is ramping outreach and enforcement in an effort to remove risks proactively. This is in response to the “Highest number of heat-related general duty clause 5(a)(1) violations and Hazard Alert Letters over a 5-year period (1/1/2017 thru 12/31/2021), or highest number of OSHA heat inspections since 2017.”

High-Risk Industries

OSHA is focusing on high-risk industries where exposure to summer heat waves has the highest potential to result in illnesses, injuries, or death.  OSHA is targeting 70 high-risk industries including:

  • Indoor
    • Bakeries & Kitchens
    • Automotive Parts, Accessories
    • Tire Stores
    • Fire Services
    • Iron/Steel Mills and Foundries
    • Manufacturing Plants
    • Warehousing and Storage Facilities
  • Outdoor
    • Farming and Agriculture
    • Construction
    • Waste Collection
    • Landscaping Services
    • Postal and Package Delivery Services
    • Oil and Gas Well Operations

Note: OSHA noted that compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) will address heat hazards during inspections, regardless of whether the employee is in an industry targeted by the NEP. The NEP, signed April 8, remains effective for 3 years or until canceled, extended, or replaced by a superseding NEP. Additionally, OSHA announced their intention to hold a public meeting on 5/3/2022 to discuss “OSHA’s ongoing activities to protect workers from heat-related hazards, including the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign” (https://www.osha.gov/heat). This stakeholder meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about and comment on the various efforts the agency is taking to protect workers from heat-related hazards, as well as hear about the agency’s rulemaking process and ways for the public to participate. The agency will also provide an overview of the following three topics:

  • Heat Illness Prevention Campaign
  • Compliance Assistance Activities
  • Enforcement Efforts

Registration is required: https://projects.erg.com/conferences/osha/osha-heat.html The meeting will take place virtually using Zoom and will be available for concurrent viewing by the public on the DOL YouTube channel. The meeting will be broadcast in English and Spanish and may be archived for future viewing.

Taking Control of Extreme Heat in the Workplace

While we presently have no control over the increasing temperatures occurring due to the climate crisis, it is important to overhaul our current handling of extreme heat. We must ensure we meet this demand with proper heat mitigation measures. Severe heat is becoming a greater threat to people all over the world, and despite the changes we are seeing, we will face greater challenges and hurdles if we do not evolve swiftly At the same time, work must still continue; businesses need to be run, people need to work, and in all of these respects, extreme heat remains a major detriment. Therefore, employers, business managers, and others in charge of conditions in the work environment must take heed and consider their options for ensuring the workplace is comfortable and cool for laborers.

During a heat-related inspection, compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) will:

  • Review employers’ OSHA 300 injury and illness logs and 301 incident reports for entries indicating heat-related illnesses.
  • Review any records of heat-related emergency room visits and/or ambulance transport without hospitalization. Such record review may require the use of a Medical Access Order.
  • Determine if the employer has a heat illness and injury program.
  • Interview workers, including both new employees and any employees who have recently returned to work, for symptoms of dehydration, dizziness, fainting, headache, or other conditions that may indicate heat-related illnesses.

A CSHO’s evaluation of an employer’s heat illness and injury prevention program will examine employee training on heat illness signs, prevention, and the importance of hydration; how employees are instructed to report signs and symptoms; and procedures for first aid and contacting emergency personnel. Questions regarding the heat illness and injury prevention program also will include:

  • Is it a written program?
  • Does the program include heat-acclimatization periods for new and returning workers?
  • How does the employer monitor ambient temperatures and levels of work exertion at the worksite?
  • Is unlimited cool water easily accessible to all employees?
  • Are there scheduled rest breaks, with access to shaded areas, and does the employer require additional breaks for hydration?
  • Are administrative controls like earlier start times and employee/job rotation used to limit heat exposures?
  • Is a “buddy” system of worker observation used on hot days?

Consider Power Breezer Evaporative Cooling as Part of Your Heat Safety Program.

Power Breezer Mobile Units

Using a Power Breezer system, which utilizes atomized evaporative cooling, may be a serious consideration for your company. These fans ensure the environment of the business remains cool and comfortable in an energy-efficient manner. Capable of drastically reducing temperatures and being able to run even outdoors, Power Breezer fans are an excellent alternative to traditional air conditioning, traditional fans, misting systems, and swamp coolers. They use only water to produce cooling and are highly energy efficient without getting people wet. Capable of drastically reducing temperatures and being able indoors or outdoors, Power Breezer fans are an excellent alternative to cool your people, not the space.

Don’t let extreme heat and climate change slow down your company’s progress and output. Keep your employees cool and help keep your business productivity running strong no matter what the weather brings. If your business operates in a climate that is susceptible to extreme heat, or if the conditions of your workplace regularly place employees in the direct line of extreme heat during their working hours, cooling measures are a necessity. Having adequate cooling technology is especially essential for worker safety, maintaining productivity, and keeping the operation running at a proper pace.

Power Breezer units are among the most advanced, high-powered options presently available, and they are excellent for a wide range of commercial uses. We offer mounted and mobile systems to protect your associates by cooling the people, not the space.  To learn more about the powerful capabilities of Power Breezer fans, contact our sales team.

 

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