UA SafeState Assists Clients with National Emphasis Program to Protect Workers from Heat Hazards

Company: University of Alabama SafeState On-site Consultation Program

University of Alabama Safestate logo


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards on April 8, 2022. The NEP expanded on OSHA’s ongoing heat-related illness prevention initiative by setting a targeted enforcement component and reiterating its outreach efforts. The University of Alabama (UA SafeState) Consultation services had already been working with businesses to provide assistance and heat stress training, virtually and face to face, to support companies in developing and enhancing protections for their workers. One company that benefited from the services provided by UA SafeState was the Spanish Fort Water Systems (SFWS), an Alabama water utility company. SFWS received its first safety and health visit from UA SafeState on September 1, 2021. The UA SafeState consultant conducted heat stress and noise monitoring in October of 2021 and conducted heat stress training on February 24, 2022.

On April 14, 2022, SFWS hosted U.S. Secretary of Labor, Martin Walsh; Alabama Department of Labor Deputy Secretary/Government Affairs, Don Harrison; OSHA Assistant Regional Administrator Cooperative & State Programs, Americo Pagan; OSHA Mobile Area Director, Jose Gonzalez; and Executive Director of Environmental & Industrial Programs OSHA Safe State, Donald Elswick. Guests toured SFWS’s water treatment facility and discussed OSHA’s efforts to promote heat prevention in the workplace.

Secretary of Labor Walsh meeting with SFWS representatives

SFWS management and employees discussed ways the system is mitigating heat-related illnesses and injuries. They demonstrated new ways to combat the heat, such as by using hydro excavation instead of having to manually dig. Employees also demonstrated, through their ongoing partnership with UA SafeState, how wearable monitors can identify hazards and conditions that may exist. These devices help management monitor and make decisions on how to protect employees by recording core body temperatures, heart rates, noise levels, and other pertinent data.

UA Safe State works with small businesses throughout Alabama to help them develop or improve safety and health programs customized to the particular business. SFWS worked closely with UA Safe State Executive Director Don Elswick to continue improving SFWS’s safety program through education and training. Elswick indicated that “UA SafeState was honored to help with this national emphasis program and highlight our industry support and our applied research in heat stress.”

After working with UA Safe State, SFWS superintendent Jason Evans said, “Any small business that can take advantage of the SafeState program should do so. Most small businesses, such as ours, do not have the resources to hire knowledgeable personnel to oversee safety programs. SafeState programs can bridge that gap and do so with much less impact on business finances.” For more information, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog: How OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program is Helping Small Businesses Protect Workers from Extreme Heat.

OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate workers, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA enforcement efforts and do not result in penalties or citations. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit