On April 8, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat safety in both indoor and outdoor working environments.
The heat safety program targets over 70 industries that the administration deems high-risk for heat-related hazards, illnesses, and deaths.
While most NEPs have a 90-day period in which the agency provides compliance and outreach assistance before beginning enforcement, this one went into effect immediately, as OSHA had already provided extended outreach.
Heat Dangers on the Rise
Each year, as global temperatures continue to rise, the dangers associated with extreme heat increase.
Each year, workers suffer over 3,500 injuries and illnesses due to heat. Last June, alone, a record heat wave in Oregon — temperatures reached 117oF — caused over 100 deaths in only four days.
In response, OSHA proposed a rule back in October 2021 that focused on heat protection, as one did not previously exist. At that point, heat safety fell under the administration’s general duty clause.
Now, with the new heat safety program, dangers associated with heat become a primary concern for the administration.
The NEP, in effect, creates a nationwide enforcement mechanism that allows for OSHA to proactively inspect workplaces for heat-related hazards in industry operations alleging hazardous exposures to heat.
“From farm workers in California to construction workers in Texas and warehouse workers in Pennsylvania, heat illness – exacerbated by our climate’s rising temperatures – presents a growing hazard for millions of workers,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said.
“This enforcement program is another step towards our goal of a federal heat standard. Through this work, we’re also empowering workers with knowledge of their rights, especially the right to speak up about their safety without fear of retaliation.”
You can find the full list of industries targeted in appendix A of the NEP.
These industries were selected based on the following criteria:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics data on incidence rates of heat-related illnesses and number of employee days away from work rate
- Elevated numbers of fatalities or hospitalizations reported by employers to OSHA
- Highest number of heat-related violations and Hazard Alert Letters over a 5-year period (1/1/2017 thru 12/31/2021), or highest number of OSHA heat inspections since 2017
What to Expect
OSHA may now conduct pre-planned inspections in high-risk industries on any day that the National Weather Service announces a heat warning or advisory for the local area.
Additionally, on high-heat priority days when the weather is expected to be 80°F or higher, OSHA field staff will engage in proactive outreach and technical/compliance assistance to help keep workers safe on the job.
The NEP encourages employers to protect workers from heat hazards by giving employees ample access to rest, water, and shade, as well as adequate training and implementation of acclimatizing procedures for new or returning employees.
The program will remain in effect for three years, unless canceled or extended by a superseding directive.
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.
With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!