Are you prepared for OSHA’s new Heat Illness Prevention Emphasis Program?
On April 12, 2022, OHSA announced a new heat-related injury and illness enforcement initiative targeting indoor and outdoor heat-related workplace hazards. “For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections before workers suffer completely preventable injuries, illnesses or, even worse, fatalities.”
The new initiative is a proactive measure to inspect over 70 high-risk industries in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning advisory for a local area. According to the OSHA website, “on days when the heat index is 80 F or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists will engage in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job. Inspectors will look for and address heat hazards during inspections, regardless of whether the industry is targeted in the NEP.”
Most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in a warm or hot environment. It takes time for the body to build a tolerance for working in hotter environments. Under OSHA law, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a workplace free of known safety hazards, including extreme heat. Employers should have a heat illness prevention program whenever workers are exposed to extreme heat environments. Prevention measures may include:
Providing workers with water, rest, and shade
Allowing new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize or build a tolerance for working in the heat
Planning for emergencies and training workers in prevention
Monitoring workers for signs of illness
Safety Plus, Inc. has been in contact with the Mobile Area OSHA Director for guidance on this new initiative. The Safety Plus team has been working diligently to ensure heat-related illness and injury policies are updated accordingly for our clients. As we are transitioning into warmer weather, it’s recommended that all employers ensure toolbox talks and safety meeting topics are focused on heat safety. Additionally, every worker on the job site should be familiar with the heat safety policy and procedures. For more information, to request a review of your heat-related illness and injury policy, or to have Safety Plus develop a safety policy for your organization, contact us today!