With summer upon us, employers need to remember to stay proactive in addressing on-the-job heat hazards. We wrote about this topic last summer on the Work Knowledge Blog. While OSHA does not regulate heat-related illnesses and injuries specifically, the agency has the ability, and willingness, to cite employers under the General Duty Clause if employers do not do enough to keep their employees safe from heat hazards.
To address those hazards, OSHA generally recommends that employers:
- Provide their workers with water, rest breaks, and shaded areas;
- Allow new or returning workers to have a take-it-easy or take-it-slow period while acclimating to warmer temperatures;
- Have an emergency plan and adequately train employees on heat illness and injury prevention; and,
- Monitor employees for symptoms of heat illness and injury.
Other OSHA requirements may be applicable to heat hazards as well. See, e.g., 29 C.F.R. § 1910.151(b) (requiring employers to train a person adequately to render first aid where an infirmary, clinic, or hospital is not in near proximity to the worksite); 29 C.F.R. 1910.132(d) (requiring an employer to assess and consider specific hazards when selecting the appropriate type of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) for the work to be performed). If you have any questions about the application of these or other OSHA regulations to your business or about how to address heat hazards in the workplace from a compliance perspective, an attorney knowledgeable about OSHA regulations can help you.