November 8, 2022

Media Alert: AIHA Joins Coalition Urging Withdrawal, Redevelopment of Maryland’s Draft Heat Stress Standard

What: On November 4th AIHA was among 38 organizations and 35 individuals belonging to the Maryland Heat Illness Prevention Coalition (MHIPC) to sign a letter urging the withdrawal and redevelopment of Maryland’s proposed heat stress standard (Code of Maryland Regulations 09.12.32). According to the coalition’s letter, the draft standards “is completely inadequate and will not protect Maryland workers from heat-related illnesses and death. Nor, as written, will MOSH be able to effectively enforce the standard.” The draft’s flaws are such that a new standard must be rewritten that adequately protects Maryland workers from occupational heat exposures, MHIPC asserts.

Why: Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) released the draft standard on Oct. 7 to fulfill the requirements of Maryland House Bill 722. Passed in 2020, this bill requires the promulgation of a standard to prevent heat illness and heat-related death among Maryland workers. MHIPC’s letter states that such a standard is necessary because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exposure to excessive environmental heat resulted in 907 deaths and 79,584 serious injuries among U.S. workers between 1992 and 2019. The full impact of heat-related illness and injury is thought to be greatly undercounted.

However, “[t]he vague language in the Maryland proposed standard is contrary to just about every other worker safety and health standard, Federal or state OSHA, which require the implementation of workplace hazard controls aimed at preventing injury, illness, and death on the job,” MHIPC states. “The proposed standard instead suggests provisions that address heat illness after a worker gets sick, which is too late.”

The coalition urges MOSH to research heat illness prevention standards and rules that have effectively reduced work-related heat illness and death in other states during redevelopment of the proposed rule. California, Oregon, and Colorado have all promulgated effective heat illness prevention standards.

“To go forward with the current proposal is to put Maryland workers at serious, and maybe extreme, risk of suffering heat-related illness and death,” the letter concludes. “These injuries and death[s] can be prevented if a sensible, science-based, directive standard is written and implemented.”

Where: MHIPC’s comments on this rulemaking may be downloaded as a PDF from AIHA’s Public Policy page.

Contact: For additional information, please contact Mark Ames, AIHA’s director of government relations.

AIHA is the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, networks, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional and competency standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed across the public and private sectors, as well as to the communities in which they work.