OSHA Requests Input for New Heat Safety Rules

Although temperatures outside are dropping this time of year, things are heating up at OSHA when it comes to addressing heat hazards on the job. According to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that was published on October 27, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened up a public comment period as it prepares to formulate new rules for workplace heat hazards. As stated in the notice, the agency is interested in gaining information about “the extent and nature of hazardous heat in the workplace and the nature and effectiveness of interventions and controls used to prevent heat-related injury and illness.”

The effort comes after data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the three-year average of worker heat-related deaths has doubled over the past three decades.

OSHA is requesting stakeholder input as it moves toward creating a rule to protect workers from extreme heat exposure in indoor and outdoor settings. More specifically, the agency is aiming to receive input on heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring.

In recent months, OSHA has been making an effort to address heat hazards.  On September 21, 2021, the agency implemented a national enforcement initiative on heat-related illness. Additionally, OSHA is in the process of developing a National Emphasis Program for heat-related inspections. OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health will initiate a heat injury and illness prevention work group to share best practices, among other measures.

The comment period ends December 27, 2021. As posted by the Federal Register, comments and attachments (identified by Docket No. OSHA-2021-0009) may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.  There you will find instruction for making electronic submissions.

It is important to note that all comments, including any personal information you provide, will be made public as part of the public dockets. For this reason, OSHA cautions all commenters about submitting information that they would not want publicly posted, including contact name, date of birth and social security numbers, as well as any content within responses and comments.

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards, and extreme heat is considered a significant hazard. To learn more about keeping employees cool in high temperatures, visit our previous post, “Keeping Crews Cool this Summer”. To gain access to the latest in safety education and training, as well as develop a comprehensive safety program for your team, contact Brauner Safety Services.

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