OSHA kicked off its annual Heat Illness Prevention Campaign by warning employers who fail to take precautions to protect employees from recognized heat- stress hazards they could face citations under the agency’s general duty clause.
At a June news conference to highlight the fourth year of the campaign, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said employers must provide water, rest and shade to protect workers from heat-related illnesses. “This is a common sense thing,” Michaels said.
Michaels called attention to the June 2013 death of a temporary worker who died after working on a garbage truck in Texas during a 10-hour shift when the heat index reached 99°F. OSHA cited the refuse collection company and the temporary labor agency that hired the worker. The agency proposed $33,000 in fines, which are being contested. OSHA issued 11 citations for heat-related violations last year, Michaels said.
Heat stress led to 31 worker deaths in 2012 and made another 4,000 ill enough to be recorded in injury and illness logs, according to the Assistant Secretary. He emphasized the need for workers to acclimatize to hot weather, especially those new to laboring outdoors and those who may not have worked in hot weather for several months, such as seasonal laborers. Michaels recommended that employers allow time for their workers to acclimatize and then monitor workers' conditions.
The agency maintains a dedicated website (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html) that contains information in English and Spanish on heat stress prevention and treatment. Included is a free heat safety tool smartphone app (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_ app.html) that calculates the heat index and recommends precautionary measures.