On July 27, the Department of Labor announced its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a heat hazard alert to remind employers of their obligation to protect workers against heat illness or injury in outdoor and indoor workplaces.
DOL also announced OSHA will intensify its enforcement where workers are exposed to heat hazards, with increased inspections in high-risk industries such as construction. These actions will fully implement the agency’s National Emphasis Program on heat to focus enforcement efforts in geographic areas and industries with the most vulnerable workers.
Since 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 436 people have died because of workplace heat exposure, with an annual average of 38 deaths between 2011 and 2019. An average of 2,700 cases involving heat illnesses lead to days lost at work, putting an additional economic burden on workers and employers.
OSHA uses hazard alerts to provide specific information about safety and health hazards to employers, workers and other stakeholders. An alert describes the hazard and offers recommendations regarding how hazardous exposures can be eliminated or reduced and actions employers should take to protect employees.
The heat hazard alert:
- Highlights what employers can and should be doing now to protect employees
- Ensures employees are aware of their rights, including protections against retaliation
- Highlights steps OSHA currently is taking to protect workers
- Directs employers, employees and the public to crucial OSHA resources, including guidance and fact sheets regarding heat