New OSHA Enforcement Initiative

Heat-Related Illness

By Doris Habayeb Courgi, CSP, CPSI and Paula DeStefano, CPRoMgrSU

OSHA has a new enforcement initiative. Currently, there is no standard that address heat-related illness & injury hazards in the workplace. OSHA relies on the General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Register.

The current initiative has been established at developing a heat-related illness standard. Issued October 2021 is a Published Advanced Notice of Rulemaking named Heat Injury & Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. The proposed rulemaking is geared towards obtaining information about the extent and nature of hazardous heat in the workplace and effective controls to prevent heat-related injury & illness.  

From the proposed rulemaking the National Emphasis Program (NEP) was placed into effect on April 8, 2022. NEP is an OSHA effort meant to gather information on addressing heat hazards in the workplace in the development of a heat hazards standard. Under the NEP, OSHA will prioritize on-site inspections. Employers will be responsible to comply with the requirements of the NEP – implement safety measures to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace/worksite.

OSHA on-site inspections can be triggered by any of the following:

  • When OSHA is conducting other, non-heat-related investigations, they can/will open a heat-related inspection into any hazardous heat conditions observed (plain view) or reported.
  • When heat index is expected to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more (heat priority days), OSHA will inquire about heat-related hazard prevention programs during these (unprogrammed) inspections.
  • When National Weather Service (NWS) has announced a heat warning or advisory for a local area, OSHA will use neutral, objective criteria to select employers for pre-planned inspections in high-risk industries in that area—including manufacturing, foundries, warehousing, farming, waste collection, residential & commercial construction, among many others.

What Employers Should Expect

  • NEP includes 70 high-risk industries (construction & non-construction)
    • List compiled from BLS reports
    • OSHA Severe Injury Reports from employer
    • General Duty Clause violations & hazard alert letters issued
    • Past industries subjected to heat inspections
  • Employer should be aware of high heat hazard work days – Heat Priority Days
    • Employer to evaluate worksite condition, take steps to decrease heat-related illness among workers
    • Be aware of workers required to engage in intense or continuous physical exertion, or who are exposed to high temperatures and humidity or direct sunlight, may be susceptible to heat-related illness
  • OSHA will request review of 300 & 300A logs for past 3 years and current year
  • OSHA to interview workers for heat illness symptoms: headache, dizziness, dehydration…
  • OSHA to review employer’s heat illness prevention program. 
    • Consider developing & implementing program if not already established
    • Consider if  the program addresses hydration, areas of rest/shade, scheduled breaks, employee acclimatization, training, other relevant policies & programs such as PPE, Ventilation, First Aid & Medical Services, Recordkeeping, Sanitation
    • Conduct a JHA to determine potential exposures to heat illness
  • Documentation of relevant weather & temperature conditions such as heat index, NWS issued heat alerts, types of heat source (direct sunlight, radiant heat sources…) level of and duration to exposure….
  • NEP Outreach – During heat priority days OSHA will increase compliance outreach
  • OSHA has resources to help employers and employees stay safe when working in high-temperature and high-humidity

Doris Habayeb Courgi is a senior risk management consultant at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-413-4459 or [email protected].
Paula DeStefano is a risk management consultant at OneGroup. She can be reached at 315-413-4441 or [email protected].

Material provided for informational purposes only. If you are in need of compliance assistance related to heat-related injury or illness prevention and compliance programs feel free to reach out to OneGroup Risk Management Team at (315) 457-180 or 1-800-268-1830