May 9, 2024

Committee Advises OSHA to Advance Proposed Heat Rulemaking

The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, which advises OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor on matters related to standards and policy, unanimously recommended on April 24 that the agency advance its proposed rule on heat injury and illness prevention among workers in both indoor and outdoor settings. OSHA will move forward with a notice of proposed rulemaking and will consider stakeholder input as well as comments from the public as it works to finalize the rule. The committee’s recommendation represents the next step in OSHA’s heat safety rulemaking process, which began in October 2021 with an advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

While the rulemaking process is ongoing, OSHA continues to conduct inspections as part of its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat. Under the NEP, the agency proactively initiates inspections in more than 70 high-risk industries when the National Weather Service issues heat warnings or advisories in local areas. Nearly 5,000 federal heat-related inspections have been conducted since the program launched in 2022, OSHA says. According to an agency news release, OSHA is also prioritizing programmed inspections in agricultural industries that employ temporary, nonimmigrant workers for seasonal labor.

“These workers face unique vulnerabilities, including potential language barriers, less control over their living and working conditions, and possible lack of acclimatization, and are at high risk of hazardous heat exposure,” OSHA explains.

OSHA previously concluded a Small Business Advocacy Review panel to discuss its potential standard to address occupational heat exposure in November 2023. The panel comprised representatives from small businesses and local government entities who provided feedback to the agency regarding the potential effects of a heat standard on small businesses.

Further details about OSHA’s rulemaking on heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings can be found on the agency’s website and in its news release announcing the committee’s recent recommendation.