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OSHA Heat Hazard Issued
Amid recent waves of high temperatures across the country, OSHA issued a heat hazard alert on July 23, 2023, to remind employers of their duty to protect indoor and outdoor workers from heat illness. OSHA also stated it plans to enhance its enforcement in locations and industries where vulnerable workers encounter heat hazards by conducting additional inspections and engaging in the broader use of enforcement tools, especially where clear danger is present.
Additionally, as historically high temperatures break records and expose millions to the serious hazard of extreme heat in the workplace, President Joe Biden announced actions to protect workers and dedicate new investments to safeguard communities. Statistics show that individuals working in environments without adequate climate control face higher risks of hazardous heat exposure and that these situations disproportionately expose people of color to dangerous heat. Pregnant workers are also more at risk in extreme heat.
OSHA uses hazard alerts to disseminate safety and health hazard information to employers, workers and other stakeholders. An alert explains the danger and provides recommendations on how it can be eliminated or reduced. It also describes actions employers should take to protect employees. The recent alert regarding heat illness or injury in outdoor and indoor workplaces does the following:
- Emphasizes that employers are responsible for protecting workers from heat illness
- Highlights actions employers can and should take to protect workers from heat hazards
- Provides information on workers’ rights, including protections against retaliation
- Describes steps OSHA is currently taking to protect workers
- Directs employers, workers and the public to OSHA resources
Employers are obligated to provide workplaces free of known safety hazards, including extreme heat. Employers are responsible for:
- Providing water, shade and rest opportunities to workers
- Allowing new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more breaks as they build a tolerance to working in the heat
- Monitoring workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness
- Training workers on heat illness prevention
- Planning for heat illness emergencies
For additional guidance, schedule a meeting with one of our professionals today.