April 2022 Mid-Month Federal HR Updates

19 Apr


OSHA Launches Program to Protect Workers from Heat Hazards

Update Applicable to:
All employers with employees who work in locations that contain heat-related hazards.

What happened?
On April 12, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for protecting workers from heat hazards in indoor and outdoor workplaces.

What are the details?
Effective since April 8, 2022, the NEP establishes heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher. On those priority days, OSHA will:

  • Initiate compliance assistance in the targeted high-risk industries; and
  • Continue to investigate any alleged heat-related fatality/catastrophe, complaint, or referral regardless of whether the worksite falls within a targeted NEP industry.

The NEP encourages employers to protect their workers from heat hazards during heat priority days by providing them with access to water, rest, shade, adequate training, and procedures for acclimating new or returning employees.

The NEP targets over 70 industries that present a high risk for heat hazards. OSHA identified these industries based on Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA report data, which finds that high-risk industries exhibit the following:

  • High numbers or incidence rates of heat-related illnesses;
  • An elevated number of days away from work or high numbers of severe cases of heat-related illnesses;
  • The highest number of heat-related general duty clause violations and hazard alert letters over a five-year period; or
  • The highest number of OSHA heat inspections since 2017.

This program will remain in effect for three years unless canceled or extended by a superseding directive.

OSHA is also hosting a public stakeholder meeting on May 3, 2022, to discuss its initiatives to protect workers from heat injury and illness. The virtual event starts at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and will give people the opportunity to leave comments.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the NEP’s information provided above, review company safety protocols for employees working with heat-related hazards, and provide employees plenty of water, rest, shade, and adequate training and procedures for acclimating.