Temperatures Rise – OSHA Discusses Worker Safety

We are entering the riskiest weeks for much of the nation in terms of heat exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a reminder to employers of their duty to protect employees, along with some guidance on ways to recognize and mitigate the risks of heat exposure.

The administration advises employers to introduce additional protective measures when the heat index is 80 degrees or higher. Its guidance extends to work environments that include heavy physical activity, warm or hot environmental conditions, lack of acclimatization, and wearing clothing that holds body heat.

Among guidance:

Water, rest, and ventilation. Employers should encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes, and take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned areas. Employers also should use cooling fans and, when possible, schedule work at a cooler time of the day.

Create a Plan. OSHA recommends that employers create a heat illness prevention plan that addresses:

  • How workers will gradually develop heat tolerance;
  • Supervision of workers;
  • A protocol for summoning medical assistance;
  • What engineer controls and work practices will be used to reduce heat stress;
  • Measurement of heat stress;
  • A response when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory;
  • How to identify heat hazards; and
  • Training for workers and supervisors.

New and temporary workers are most at risk to the hazards of excessive heat.

OSHA also recommends that, if feasible, at least one individual at a worksite should monitor conditions and implement the employer’s heat plan.

Source: The National Law Review