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Manufacturers Can Expect Emphasis on Prevention of Heat Illness in Workplaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had announced this spring its intention to implement a new heat illness standard that will apply to indoor environments. Now, the U.S. Department of Labor has announced “enhanced and expanded” efforts to address heat-related illnesses as part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to workplace safety, climate resilience, and environmental justice.

As a part of these efforts, OSHA will:

  • Implement an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards for days with a heat index that exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit;

  • Develop a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections;

  • Launch a rule-making process to develop a workplace heat standard; and

  • Form a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group.

OSHA is expected to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on heat injury and illness prevention in both indoor and outdoor work environments in October 2021. While the scope of the National Emphasis Program on heat inspections and the National Advisory Commission on Heat Injury and Illness Prevention have not yet been released, OSHA has indicated the purposes of each will be to target heat inspections in high-risk industries and address heat-related illnesses and injuries.

While awaiting specifics, manufacturing facilities can expect to see an uptick in enforcement efforts and inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some areas that typically do not see high temperatures have been experiencing record hot days lately, resulting in problems for workers who are unaware or inexperienced when it comes to dealing with the heat.

Some steps that can be taken include, but are not limited to:

  • Employing an acclimatization process where an individual gradually increases their exposure time in hot environmental conditions;

  • Encouraging or mandating employees take regular breaks for rest or shade;

  • Supplying water; and

  • Training employees on heat-related illnesses, including how to spot common symptoms, and what to do when a worker suspects a heat-related illness is occurring.

As the fall and winter seasons approach across the United States, manufacturing facilities can take steps to address and implement measures to ready for OSHA’s enforcement initiative when the warmer months arrive.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 277

About this Author

Maurice G. Jenkins, Jackson Lewis, Civil Rights Arbitrations Attorney, pharmaceutical manufacturing lawyer

Maurice G. Jenkins is a Principal in the Detroit, Michigan, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law for more than 30 years.

A trial lawyer, Mr. Jenkins, who is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, has first chaired jury trials, labor and civil rights arbitrations, NLRB hearings and state civil rights administrative cases on behalf of employers in such business sectors as automotive (OEM; Tier .5-4 suppliers and retail), pharmaceutical manufacturing, international, national and...

James M Stone Labor & Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis Cleveland, OH

James M. Stone is a principal of the Cleveland, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. From the opening of the office in 2006 until early 2020, Jim served as office managing principal in Cleveland, when he stepped down to focus on his busy practice and increased task force activities within practice groups and industry teams.

With more than 25 years of experience in labor and employment law, he has conducted more than 120 negotiations with unions, represented companies in hundreds of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and other claims in court and...