Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings Rulemaking

Background

Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena, and it is becoming more dangerous as nine of the last ten years were among the warmest on record. Excessive heat can cause heat stroke and even death if not treated properly. It also exacerbates existing health problems like asthma, kidney failure, and heart disease. Workers in agriculture and construction are among the highest risk, but the problem affects all workers exposed to heat, including indoor workers without adequate climate-controlled environments. Workers of color disproportionately make up the population of employees in essential jobs who are exposed to high levels of heat, which exacerbates socioeconomic and racial inequalities in the U.S.

Current Status

OSHA concluded the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) process on November 3, 2023. This step in the rulemaking process included the convening of a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel to gain input from small entity representatives (SERs) on the potential impacts of a heat-specific standard. More information on the Heat Injury and Illness SBREFA can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/heat/sbrefa.

The next step is for OSHA to develop a proposed rule based on the recommendations from the panel report, public input, and additional research. For more information on how to engage with this stage of the rulemaking process, visit: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/rulemakingprocess#v-nav-tab2.

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On October 27, 2021, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in the Federal Register. With this publication, OSHA has begun the rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard. A standard specific to heat-related injury and illness prevention would more clearly set forth employer obligations and the measures necessary to more effectively protect employees from hazardous heat. The ultimate goal is to prevent and reduce the number of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities caused by exposure to hazardous heat.

The publication of the ANPRM initiated a public comment period allowing OSHA to gather information, diverse perspectives and technical expertise on issues that might be considered in developing a heat standard. These issues include the scope of a standard, heat stress thresholds for workers across various industries, heat acclimatization planning, and heat exposure monitoring, as well as the nature, types, and effectiveness of controls that may be required as part of a standard.

The publication of this ANPRM has no impact on OSHA's current enforcement policies. The ANPRM is available on the Federal Register web page and at www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

The comment period closed on January 26, 2022. OSHA received 965 unique comments from stakeholders, which are available at www.regulations.gov/document/OSHA-2021-0009-0001.