OSHA Eyes a National Heat Standard

On July 2, OSHA published their proposed standard addressing heat illness in outdoor and indoor settings.

The proposal codifies many of the heat safety practices the construction industry already uses to protect workers. Those measures, which broadly fall into the categories of water, rest, shade, and training, were crafted by contractors as part of their general duty obligations to protect workers from hazards associated with high temperatures. However, OSHA has not addressed the disparate impacts of heat in various parts of the country. The impacts on worker safety of a 90°F day in Mississippi are different than a 90°F day in Alaska. The final version of the rule should take into account regional differences in weather patterns.

The proposal also lacks any emphasis on the role workers must play to protect themselves from the heat.

Heat safety does not begin at the job site and the rule should include measures designed to reinforce the role workers play in protecting themselves. These measures include self-hydrating, understanding how common health conditions and medications contribute to heat stress and avoiding the excessive consumption of drinks containing caffeine and alcohol during periods of extreme heat. All of which the agency is aware.

Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 120-day comment period. AGC will continue to review proposed rule, and work with members and chapters to assist in the development of our comments. 

Please contact Kevin Cannon or Nazia Shah for more information.

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