OSHA Issues Notice of Proposed Rule for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention

On October 27, 2021 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. Currently, OSHA does not have a specific standard for hazardous heat conditions and this action begins the process to consider a heat-specific workplace rule. The ANPRM will initiate a comment period to gather diverse perspectives and expertise on topics, such as heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning and exposure monitoring from subject matter experts and those among the regulated community. 

OSHA is interested in obtaining additional information about the extent and nature of hazardous heat in the workplace and the nature and effectiveness of interventions and controls used to prevent heat illness. Recommendations should account for indoor and outdoor work environments and businesses of all different sizes. Specifically, OSHA seeks information, data sources, and examples on the following topics:

  • Occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities due to hazardous heat, including their under reporting and magnitude across geographic regions or among various industries, occupations, job tasks, or businesses of various sizes 
  • Determinants of hazardous occupational heat exposure and heat-related illness in the workplace 
  • Inequalities in exposures and outcomes among workers of color and low-wage earners 
  • Structure of work and work arrangements affected by hazardous heat
  • Existing efforts on heat illness prevention, including by OSHA, states, employers, or other industry associations 
  • Heat illness prevention plans and programs
  • Engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment 
  • Acclimatization 
  • Physiologic and exposure monitoring
  • Planning and responding to heat illness emergencies 
  • Worker training and engagement 
  • Costs, economic impacts, and benefits 
  • Impacts of climate change on hazardous heat exposure for outdoor and indoor work settings

Comments related to the scope of the standard and the types of controls it might require will also be considered. The Federal Register notice announcing the ANPRM describes instructions for submitting comments, which are due by December 27th.

The ANPRM is among multiple new measures recently announced by OSHA to protect workers from heat hazards. In September, OSHA established a new enforcement initiative to prioritize heat-related interventions and agency inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80° F. The agency is also forming a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group and developing a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) on heat hazard cases. The goal of the new work group will be to improve understanding of challenges related to heat hazards and identify best practices for protecting workers. OSHA intends to complete the data review for its new NEP in time for it to take effect before summer 2022.

More information on OSHA’s heat-related activities can be found in the agency’s press release and on the OSHA Heat Illness Prevention campaign webpage