An Update on OSHA’s National Emphasis Program for Heat Stress

In April 2022, OSHA began a National Emphasis Program (NEP) aimed at protecting employees from heat-related hazards and resulting injuries and illnesses in outdoor and indoor workplaces.

On July 12, 2023, Gary Orr, health scientist in OSHA’s Enforcement Directorate, provided an update on DOL’s heat enforcement program. If you missed the webinar, look for a recording here.

Here is what ISEA heard:

  • DOL’s Wage and House Administration enforcement staff are also looking for heat stress violations (likely at ag labor camps and restaurants). This doubles DOL’s impact!

  • Heat Priority Days – when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher – OSHA staff will seek to visit employers and provide compliance assistance, such as the importance of a heat stress prevention program. 80° seems to be the cut point where heat injuries and fatalities can occur, likely due to heat load and clothing.

  • However, when the National Weather Service has announced a heat advisory or warning for a local area, OSHA enforcement still will conduct programmed inspections based on the set of NAICS codes in the heat stress NEP.

  • Indoor heat! Foundaries, bakeries, etc.. use air movement for indoor cooling. But, on hot days, this system does not work as well, OSHA says.

  • Hydration: Every 15-20 minutes, drink a cup.  That’s a quart per hour!  Sports drinks put sodium and potassium back in your body (electrolyte replenishment!).  Avoid drinks with sugar!  Sometimes flavoring is good, because it encourages people to drink.

  • OSHA gives attention and weight to those who use the heat exposure app to plan for worker safety.

Notable Stats (as of June 20, 2023)

  • 1,827 federal heat inspections
    • 1,001 unprogrammed
    • 826 programmed
  • 47% in construction
  • 15% in manufacturing
  • 20 citations issued
  • 85 hazard alert letters written

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