Will Summer Heat Require Extra Steps To Comply With OSHA?

June 1, 2012

With summer temperatures upon us, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has a public awareness campaign to prevent workplace injuries related to heat. OSHA does not have a specific standard for working in heat, but, under federal law, employers have a duty to protect workers from serious hazards in the workplace, including heat-related hazards.

OSHA recommends that any employer with workers in outdoor environments: (1) provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them; (2) provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area (At least one pint of water per hour is needed); (3) schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas; (4) routinely check workers who are at risk of heat stress due to protective clothing and high temperature; and (5) consider protective clothing that is cooling.

Workers new to outdoor jobs are generally most at risk for heat-related illnesses. In almost half of the 25 incidents of heat-related illness investigated by OSHA in 2005, the worker involved was on their first day of work and in 80% of the cases the worker involved had only been on the job for four or fewer days.