View all Articles

OSHA Heat Standard Progresses 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent its proposed heat standard for indoor and outdoor settings (“proposed final rule”) to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication. Upon publication in the Federal Register it will be open for public comment. The final rule is being implemented to prevent or reduce heat-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The proposed rule would require employers to develop an injury and illness prevention plan to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat. Among other things, the plan would require employers to evaluate heat risks and when heat increases risks to workers implement requirements for drinking water, rest breaks and control of indoor heat. It would also require a plan to protect new or returning workers unaccustomed to working in high-heat conditions.

The proposed rule is currently pending publication in the Federal Register. The published draft version of the proposed rule may vary slightly from the published document if minor technical or formatting changes are made during the OFR review process. Only the version published in the Federal Register is the official proposed rule.

Next Steps

In the interim of the proposed rule being published in the federal register and ultimately being finalized, covered employers should be mindful that they are bound by OSHA’s General Duty Clause. As a result, it remains prudent to have procedures in place to ensure that they are monitoring outdoor and/or indoor temperatures, ensuring employees are: (1) educated on signs of heat illness and what to do when they suspect a heat-related illness is occurring, (2) have access to shade and water, (3) provided with adequate breaks to cool down, and (4) provided access to ventilation or cooling areas in their workplace. Employers are also encouraged to visit OSHA’s webpage for information including prevention measures for those working in outdoor and indoor heat environments.

OSHA encourages the public to participate by submitting comments when the proposed standard is officially published in the Federal Register. Employer input will help OSHA to develop a final rule that adequately protects workers, is feasible for employers, and is based on the best available evidence. For more information on how to provide comments at this stage of the process, click here.

HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updates as they become available.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.