Quick Hits

  • There are signs that OSHA’s protracted rulemaking process with regard to a heat injury and illness standard may be moving forward in earnest.
  • OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet on April 24, 2024, to consider, among other things, heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work rulemaking.
  • Though the introduction of a heat injury and illness prevention standard has long been an OSHA priority, the requisite rulemaking has yet to happen.

On April 3, 2024, OSHA published a notice in the Federal Register that the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) will meet on April 24, 2024. One of the agenda items listed in the publication is “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Rulemaking.” A second item on the agenda is “Infectious Disease Rulemaking.”

Given the long-standing promise of a heat injury and illness prevention standard, it should not come as a shock to anyone that OSHA would, at some point, start moving the process along. That an agenda item relates to both indoor and outdoor heat injury and illness prevention is a bit of a surprise.

While several states—primarily those on the West Coast—have adopted indoor heat injury and illness prevention programs, they first adopted regulations related to outdoor work and several years later added protections for indoor workers. Given the apparent difficulty OSHA has had developing a heat injury and illness prevention standard, it is difficult to understand why the agency would consider tackling both outdoor and indoor workplaces at the same time, potentially in the same rulemaking.

Historically, OSHA has expected employers to implement programs that provide employees with “water, rest, and shade” to prevent outdoor heat injury and illness. Employers with workplaces out of the sun will likely need to develop new strategies to deal with the issue, but they will almost certainly need to provide employees with more breaks and more access to water.

Ogletree Deakins’ Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the Workplace Safety and Health blog.

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