The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has published an instructional bulletin which establishes programs to combat heat injury and illness for all affected employees governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This instructional bulletin serves to implement a National Emphasis Program to protect employees against heat-related hazards (Heat NEP). The goal of the Heat NEP is to establish targeted enforcement and emphasis regarding existing compliance and outreach initiatives. This applies not only to employees of a given workplace, but also contractors and visitors.
How will this NEP affect workplaces?
OSHA plans to increase inspection efforts with a focus on heat-related hazards. Appendix A of the Heat NEP describes target industries for increased enforcement, which are broken down into non-construction industries (manufacturing, wholesalers, transportation, etc.) and construction industries. The industries detailed in Appendix A were identified as posing the highest risk for heat-related hazards based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on their incident rates or days away from work. Facilities where worker fatalities occurred will continue to be of highest priority to OSHA, followed by those that have received complaints and referrals related to heat-related hazards. Workers who request inspections due to heat exposure complaints are protected under whistleblower protection statutes.
What will be reviewed during heat-related inspections?
- OSHA 300 Logs and 301 Incident Reports
- Records of emergency room visits and medical care
- Measures taken to prevent heat illnesses and injuries, including written programs, monitoring procedures, training, etc.
Workers will also be interviewed for symptoms that may indicate heat-related illnesses or injuries, and on-site conditions will be documented to identify potential hazard sources.
What can employers do in response to the Heat NEP?
- Inspect facilities to determine if air conditioned or shaded areas are available for workers to take breaks, and if adequate air flow is provided to mitigate heat build-up
- Facilitate worker hydration by providing clean drinking water to employees
- Provide training to identify symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and associated response measures
- Prepare a written heat illness and injury program which covers preventative measures, training, and corrective procedures
Walden’s team of health and safety professionals have a breadth of experience in proactively targeting workplace hazards, including heat-related illnesses and injuries. Give us a call today at 516-758-1273 to discuss how we can assist your facility!