The SBAR Panel for a potential standard to address Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings concluded on November 3, 2023.
The Final SBREFA Report can be downloaded here.
Heat Injury and Illness SBREFA
Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings SBREFA
OSHA is in the process of developing a potential standard, Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. OSHA convened a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel in August 2023 and heard feedback from small businesses, small local government entities, and non-profit entities who served as small entity representatives (SERs). OSHA plans to regulate workplace exposure to hazardous heat, and the standard could cover outdoor and indoor work in any/all General Industry, Construction, Maritime, and Agriculture sectors where OSHA has jurisdiction. Therefore, OSHA sought participation from a wide range of sectors and welcomed SERs from any industry that might be affected. OSHA received input from SERs from the following industries:
- Agriculture and Forestry
- Building Material Suppliers
- Commercial Kitchens
- Construction and Utilities
- Fire Protection
- Landscaping, Facilities Support, Maintenance, and Repair
- Material Handling, Transportation, and Warehousing
- Oil and Gas
- Recreation and Amusement
- Wholesale and Retail Trade
In accordance with the requirements of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), OSHA convened an SBAR Panel on August 25, 2023. The Panel, comprised of members from the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration (SBA), OSHA, and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), listened to SERs who would potentially be affected by the standard and issued a report following the Panel. Each small entity selected to serve as a SER was sent information to review on potential options that OSHA has identified, and then asked to participate in a small-group videoconference to discuss any concerns or other input related to the information provided—specifically relating to how a regulation might potentially affect the operations of their workplace.
The Panel hosted six videoconferences on September 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, and 19, 2023. These videoconferences were open for the public to listen to but not participate in. Each SER was asked to participate in one of the videoconferences.
About a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings Standard
Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena in the United States. Excessive heat exacerbates existing health conditions like asthma, kidney failure, and heart disease, and can cause heat stroke and even death if not treated properly and promptly. Workers in both outdoor and indoor work settings without adequate climate controls are at risk of hazardous heat exposure. Certain heat-generating processes, machinery, and equipment (e.g., hot tar ovens, furnaces, etc.) can also cause hazardous heat when cooling measures are not in place. Some groups may be more likely to experience adverse health effects from heat, such as pregnant workers, while others are disproportionately exposed to hazardous levels of heat, such as workers of color in essential jobs who are more often employed in work settings with high risk of hazardous heat exposure.
Heat-related illness means adverse clinical health outcomes that occur due to exposure to hazardous heat. Heat-related injury means an injury linked to heat exposure that is not considered one of the typical symptoms of heat-related illness, such as a fall or cut. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries estimates there have been 33,890 work-related heat injuries and illnesses involving days away from work from 2011–2020, with an average of 3,389 injuries and illnesses of this severity occurring per year during this period. Additionally, according to the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, exposure to environmental heat has killed 999 U.S. workers from 1992–2021, with an average of 33 fatalities per year during that time period. However, statistics for occupational heat-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities are likely vast underestimates for several reasons, such as the varying nature of heat-related symptoms, including their impact on decision-making abilities, and the latent health issues from heat exposure that are not initially recorded. Also, the definition of heat-related illnesses often varies by jurisdiction, leading to inconsistent reporting by medical professionals. In addition, these datasets heavily rely on self-reported outcomes from employers and employees, which may contribute to the underreporting.
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 initiated 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 or reduce the number of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities caused by exposure to hazardous heat.
OSHA received 965 unique comments from stakeholders addressing various questions asked in the ANPRM. Using these comments, academic literature, best practices from state heat-specific standards, and other input from experts, stakeholders, and the public, OSHA developed potential options for various elements of a heat-specific standard.
Through the SBREFA process, OSHA presented to SERs the potential options the Agency identified for various elements of a heat-specific standard to prevent or reduce heat injury and illness in outdoor and indoor work settings. OSHA sought input from SERs on how these measures might affect the operations of their workplace.
Topics considered by the SBAR Panel included potential options for:
- A programmatic approach to heat injury and illness prevention;
- The scope of a potential standard;
- Heat hazard identification and assessment;
- Heat hazard prevention and control measures;
- Medical treatment and heat-related emergency response procedures;
- Worker training; and
Who Qualifies as a "Small Entity"?
The definition of a "small entity" varies widely across the broad range of industry sectors potentially covered by the standard. The size standards vary by industry sector but are usually based on either number of employees or revenue (expressed in millions of dollars). A size standard is the largest size that an entity can be and still qualify as a small business for Federal Government programs. Generally, size standards are the average annual receipts or the average employment of a firm.
OSHA welcomed SERs from any industry that might be affected by the proposed standard, including those within the sectors below. Please see the SBA Table of Size Standards for the exact definition of a small entity for an industry sector.
|Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting
|Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
|Wholesale Trade (e.g., lumber wholesalers, construction materials wholesalers)
|Retail Trade (e.g., building material suppliers)
|Transportation and Warehousing
|Information (e.g., wired and wireless telecommunications carriers)
|Finance and Insurance (e.g., insurance appraisal services)
|Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (e.g., commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing)
|Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (e.g., surveying and mapping services)
|Administrative and Support (e.g., landscaping) and Waste Management and Remediation Services
|Educational Services (e.g., culinary schools, welding schools)
|Health Care and Social Assistance (e.g., disaster and emergency relief services, field clinics)
|Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (e.g., amusement and recreation)
|Accommodation and Food Services (e.g., commercial kitchens)
|Other Services (e.g., automotive repair and maintenance, drycleaning and laundry services)
|Public Administration (e.g., fire protection)
Public entities must be in OSHA state plan states and serve populations of fewer than 50,000 to participate. Private entities must meet the SBA definition of a small entity.
Additionally, OSHA considers all non-profit entities to be small entities regardless of number of employees or revenue, and welcomed participation from entities that operate in a non-profit status, regardless of size.
As an initial rulemaking step, OSHA convened an SBAR Panel in accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). This Panel consisted of members from OSHA, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy (SBA's Office of Advocacy), and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The SBAR Panel provided an opportunity for Small Entity Representatives ("SERs"), which included small businesses, small non-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions with a population less than 50,000, to convey how the agency's potential regulatory framework may impact small businesses and other small entities, and to suggest ways to minimize those impacts while meeting OSHA's statutory goals.
SERs were sent documents outlining the elements of a potential regulatory framework, alternatives and options for achieving those elements that OSHA is considering, and preliminary analysis of the unit costs of the framework, for comment. The Panel's primary role was to report to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA on the comments of the SERs and on the Panel's findings as to issues related to small entity impacts and alternatives that accomplish the agency's objectives while minimizing the impact on small entities. The report contains recommendations for the agency on its analysis and on possible approaches to regulatory action that may minimize impacts on small entities.
Heat SER Materials – SER Background Document: provides an overview of several options that OSHA is considering for a potential standard, estimates of the time and resources needed for each option, and types of small entities that would likely be affected by a standard as outlined in the regulatory framework.
Heat SER Materials – List of SBAR Panel Questions: includes a list of questions for SERs prepared by the SBAR Panel. SERs may answer and provide input on any or all questions, along with any other issues they would like the Panel to consider.
Any interested party may submit comments, even those who are not participating as small entity representatives (SERs), and the agency will include those comments in the public docket. All such comments can be submitted via the government's e-regulatory portal, www.regulations.gov, at OSHA-2021-0009-1059. The comment period will close on December 23, 2023. While OSHA will consider such comments as resources allow, the agency has no legal obligations to consider or to respond to non-SER comments.