OSHA publishes heat standard proposal Sarah Gonzalez July 2, 2024

OSHA publishes heat standard proposal

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on July 2 announced the publication of a heat standard proposal that would require employers to develop an injury and illness prevention plan to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat.

“The nation’s first-ever federal safety standard addressing excessive heat in the workplace,” would apply to all employers conducting outdoor and indoor work in all general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture sectors where OSHA has jurisdiction, noted the White House.

Excluded from the rule would be short-duration employee exposures to heat, emergency response activities, work at indoor sites kept below 80°F, telework, and indoor sedentary work activities.

OSHA submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on June 11, which completed its review in just three weeks.  OSHA’s proposed rule will be open for a 120-day public comment period after it is officially published in the Federal Register.

Among other provisions, the proposed standard – as summarized in this OSHA fact sheet – would require employers to:

  • Develop and implement a work site heat injury and illness prevention plan (HIIPP) with site-specific information to evaluate and control heat hazards in their workplace.
  • Identify heat hazards in both outdoor and indoor work sites.
  • Implement control measures at or above the Initial Heat Trigger (i.e., a heat index of 80°F) that include providing employees with cool drinking water; break areas with cooling measures; indoor work area controls; acclimatization protocols for new and returning unacclimatized employees; paid rest breaks if needed to prevent overheating; and regular and effective two-way communication.
  • Implement additional control measures at or above the High Heat Trigger (i.e., heat index of 90°F) that include providing employees mandatory rest breaks of 15 minutes at least every two hours; observation for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness; a hazard alert to remind employees of key parts of the HIIPP; and warning signs at indoor work areas with ambient temperatures that regularly exceed 120°F.
  • Take steps if an employee is experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness or a heat emergency and develop a heat emergency response plan.
  • Provide initial and annual refresher training for supervisors, heat safety coordinators, and employees, as well as supplemental training after changes in exposure to heat hazards, policies and procedures, or the occurrence of a heat injury or illness.
  • Have and maintain, for a minimum of six months, written or electronic records of indoor monitoring data.
  • Ensure that all requirements are at no cost to employees.

Throughout the rulemaking process, NGFA has submitted comments opposing a one-size-fits-all standard that lacks the necessary flexibility for employers to determine and implement appropriate controls to protect their employees. The primary concern with the rulemaking is that it will place an undue regulatory burden on grain handling facilities in indirect (employee time) and direct costs (equipment) and additional paperwork requirements. NGFA submitted comments on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) docket and to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) Panel regarding the heat standard. NGFA will continue to engage with other stakeholders to submit comments on the proposed standard after it is published in the Federal Register.