The Monthly Weekly: As Summer Approaches, OSHA Focuses on Heat and Other Initiatives
Editor’s note: The Monthly Weekly is an occasional feature that reviews the previous month’s news coverage from The Synergist Weekly newsletter.
With the beginning of summer less than two months away, OSHA is poised to hold a virtual stakeholder meeting to discuss its initiatives to protect workers from heat-related hazards. The meeting will be held online today, May 3, via Zoom from 12 to 5 p.m. ET. Interested individuals may view the meeting concurrently on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) YouTube channel. OSHA will provide an overview of its ongoing activities focused on heat-related hazards as well as introduce the agency’s rulemaking process and ways in which the public can participate.
OSHA initiated the rulemaking process for a standard to protect workers from heat hazards in late October 2021. Stakeholders had until Jan. 26 to weigh in on the agency’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking on heat injury and illness prevention, which covers both outdoor and indoor work settings. According to DOL’s regulatory agenda for fall 2021, OSHA’s rule on heat illness prevention remains in the prerule stage.
Heat hazards are among several issues on which OSHA has focused over the last month. Here are some recent agency updates on heat hazards and other topics.
National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat hazards. Last month, OSHA announced the first-ever NEP intended to protect U.S. workers from heat illnesses and injuries. Heat illness affects thousands of workers each year, and reducing heat-related illnesses and injuries in the workplace is a top priority for DOL, according to OSHA.
Recordkeeping and reporting. A new OSHA enforcement program is intended to identify employers that do not submit workplace injury and illness data through the agency’s Injury Tracking Application. The program, which began in April, was developed in response to recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office for OSHA to improve illness and injury data reporting.
Reconsidering, revoking Arizona's state plan. On April 20, OSHA announced a proposal to reconsider and revoke its final approval of Arizona’s state occupational safety and health plan. The agency describes its decision as a response to “nearly a decade-long pattern of failures to adopt and enforce standards and enforcement policies at least as effective as those used by [federal OSHA].” The publication of OSHA’s proposal in the Federal Register marked the beginning of the revocation process.
Silica overexposures among stone workers. A new Regional Emphasis Program developed by OSHA is intended to identify and reduce respirable crystalline silica hazards in the cut stone and stone products industry in OSHA Region 8, which comprises the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. According to the agency, 30 percent of this region’s documented overexposures to respirable crystalline silica in the past 10 years occurred in the cut stone and stone products industry.
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