March 28, 2024

ASSP, ANSI Publish Standard for Heat Stress in Construction

The American Society of Safety Professionals and the American National Standards Institute have released the first national voluntary consensus standard for protecting construction and demolition workers from heat stress. According to ASSP’s press release, ANSI/ASSP A10.50, Heat Stress Management in Construction and Demolition Operations, offers guidance on how to protect workers from the health effects of high heat conditions, including through acclimating workers and training supervisors and employees. The standard also covers engineering and administrative controls to reduce risk and prevent heat-related illness, contains checklists and flowcharts to help employers develop effective heat stress management programs, and includes an emergency response plan in case a worker has a severe reaction to heat.

“While the scope of the standard focuses on construction and demolitions, the guidance can be adapted to protect workers performing other outdoor jobs such as tree trimming, farming, road maintenance and pipeline painting,” ASSP states.

The effects of heat stress can range from mild symptoms, including heat stress and heat cramps, to potentially fatal conditions, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 436 work-related deaths caused by exposure to environmental heat between 2011 and 2021. As of March 2024, no national regulatory standard exists to protect U.S. workers from heat illness and injury, although OSHA began its rulemaking process for a national heat standard in October 2021. By November 2023, the agency had concluded a small business advocacy review panel to discuss the impacts of the potential standard.

Voluntary consensus standards such as ASSP/ANSI A10.50 are intended to fill the gaps where federal regulations are inadequate, according to ASSP’s press release. A subcommittee that included representatives from businesses, trade unions, consulting firms, universities, and government agencies developed the new voluntary standard over the course of three years.

“This new industry consensus standard is an important development because there is no federal regulation focused on heat stress,” said Jim Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA, the president of ASSP. “Employers need expert guidance on how to manage heat-related risks. They must have the tools and resources to identify and help prevent work hazards before an incident occurs.”

More information can be found in ASSP’s press release. A free preview of ANSI/ASSP A10.50 may be downloaded from the ASSP website.