House Wants More Protections for Workers in Extreme Heat

A House of Representatives bill introduced last week would direct OSHA to adopt a standard to prevent occupational exposure to excessive heat in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Excessive environmental heat stress killed 783 U.S. workers and seriously injured 69,374 workers from 1992 through 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill, said OSHA does not have a federal standard that requires breaks, shade or water but rather it suggests provisions. Others say it is unnecessary, given that OSHA can issue its own regulations.

“Heat exposure is currently regulated under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., ranking member of the subcommittee. “Employers are already required to take steps to protect employees and provide a safe work environment, and that includes preventing workers from being exposed to heat that results in illness.”

In March, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission sent clear signals that OSHA should adopt a standard to address heat stress risks rather than relying on the general duty clause after vacating a citation issued after the death of a 61-year-old temporary employee from complications of heat stroke.

Source: Business Insurance