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UPDATED, July 28: The U.S. Department of Labor announced that 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.

The department also announced that OSHA will intensify its enforcement where workers are exposed to heat hazards, with increased inspections in high-risk industries like construction and agriculture. These actions will fully implement the agency’s National Emphasis Program on heat, announced in April 2022, to focus enforcement efforts in geographic areas and industries with the most vulnerable workers.

It comes after President Joe Biden announced a series of actions aimed at protecting workers from the impact of extreme heat, including asking the U.S. Department of Labor to issue a first-ever hazard alert for heat.

The hazard alert is intended to reaffirm existing worker protections regarding heat injury and illness under federal law. As part of the alert, the announcement said the DOL will be conducting outreach to employers and workers to raise awareness of these protections.

Additionally, the announcement stated that the DOL will increase enforcement of heat safety violations and step up inspections of industries deemed “high risk,” including construction.

ABC strongly supports worker safety and protection from heat injury and illness, while maintaining flexibility for the fluid nature of the construction environment. Employers play a key role in providing training and awareness regarding heat protection, and ABC will continue to support members in ensuring preparedness for heat-related issues through a wide range of resources.

OSHA Actions Related to Heat Illness and Prevention:

On Oct. 27, 2021, OSHA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings, which requested information on how to implement regulations to prevent workers from hazardous heat. ABC, as a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, submitted comments in response to the ANPRM on Jan. 26, 2022.

On April 12, 2022, OSHA announced a National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards, which sets out a targeted enforcement effort and reiterates OSHA’s compliance assistance and outreach efforts.

On June 22, OSHA announced it will be holding Small Business Advocacy Review panel (also known as a SBREFA panel) meetings this summer to gather input on a possible Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings rule.

The panel is tentatively scheduled to convene on or about Aug. 21 and will host a series of video conferences with Small Entity Representatives, or SERs, selected from the potentially regulated sectors, which include agriculture, construction, landscaping, manufacturing, oil and gas, warehousing, waste management, utilities and food service, specifically in restaurant kitchens. Each SER will be asked to review background materials and participate in a single video conference on the subject matter.

The panel will be comprised of representatives from OSHA, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

ABC member contractors that are interested in participating in the SBREFA panel are encouraged to reach out to ABC Senior Director of Policy Karen Livingston at [email protected] for further information about the process.