Department of Labor Continues Major Push for Heat Safety Measures - Worksite Medical
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There’s no denying that extreme heat poses significant risks to workers in both outdoor and indoor spaces. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor continued its effort to protect them, issuing new heat safety measures to ensure the health of workers everywhere.

In an announcement released on July 27, 2023, OSHA issued an official heat hazard alert, reminding employers of their responsibility to safeguard workers against heat illness or injury.

This announcement is part of OSHA’s intensified enforcement efforts, with a particular focus on high-risk industries such as construction and agriculture.

You know that as an employer, it’s your duty to take responsibility for the health and safety of your workers, and provide a safe working environment for them.

Let’s examine a few of the recent heat safety measures, and what they could mean for you and your business.


Related Article: OSHA Launches New Heat Safety Program


Overheating construction worker who requires heat safety measures for his protection

The Urgency of Heat Safety Measures


So, how important is the need for proper heat safety measures? Well, the urgency is underscored by some alarming statistics.

Between 2011 and 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 436 fatalities related to workplace heat exposure, with an average of 38 deaths per year.

Additionally, an average of 2,700 heat illness cases annually resulted in lost workdays, placing an additional economic burden on both workers and employers.

It’s crucial to recognize that workers in conditions lacking adequate climate control face higher risks of dangerous heat exposure, causing illness, downtime, or even death.


Related Article: Join the Conversation: The Impact of a Workplace Heat Standard on Small Businesses


Presidential Commitment to Worker Safety


Working in conjunction with safety organizations, even President Biden has demonstrated a commitment to protecting workers from extreme heat hazards, asking the Department of Labor to issue first-ever Hazard Alert for Heat, and announcing new investments to protect communities.

Additionally, acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, emphasized the need for immediate action, stating that a workplace heat standard has long been a priority for the Department of Labor.

While rulemaking can be time-consuming, the issuance of a heat hazard alert by OSHA ensures that employers adhere to existing standards, and workers are informed of their rights.


OSHA’s Efforts towards a Heat-Specific Workplace Standard


Recognizing the need for a dedicated heat-specific workplace standard, OSHA initiated the rulemaking process in October 2021.

To better protect workers in the interim, the agency has undertaken several steps towards heat safety measures, including;

  • Developing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards and heat safety measures,
  • Launching a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections, and
  • Establishing the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health’s Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group.

These efforts aim to understand challenges and share best practices to enhance worker protection.


The Importance of Hazard Alerts


Hazard alerts serve as critical tools to inform employers, workers, and stakeholders about specific safety and health risks.

In the case of heat hazards, OSHA’s alert outlines actionable steps you can take immediately to protect your employees. It also ensures that workers remain aware of their rights and protections against retaliation.

Additionally, the alert directs everyone to vital OSHA resources, including guidance and fact sheets on heat safety.


OSHA Continues Commitment to Enforce Worker Rights


OSHA’s Assistant Secretary, Doug Parker, reiterates their unwavering commitment to enforcing worker rights and ensuring safe work environments.

He emphasizes that regardless of the job or location, every worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. OSHA will use all available tools and mechanisms to enforce these rights, guaranteeing that every employee can go home at the end of their shift free from harm.

See OSHA’s Guidelines on Employer Responsibilities for Heat Illness Prevention.


The Key Takeaways


Although OSHA’s rulemaking process for heat-specific workplace standard may still be a ways away, their recent actions demonstrate their dedication to heat safety measures overall.

The establishment of a National Emphasis Program, the formation of advisory committees, and the launch of educational campaigns all contribute to raising awareness and promoting worker safety.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s recent actions demonstrate its unwavering commitment to protecting workers from heat hazards. Through heat hazard alerts, intensified enforcement, and various other initiatives, OSHA strives to ensure that employers fulfill their obligation to provide a safe working environment.

As the nation faces unprecedented heat challenges, safeguarding your team becomes more critical than ever. With the ongoing commitment of government agencies and employers alike, we can move towards a future where every worker can perform their duties without compromising their health and safety.



About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.