Are you prepared to protect your workers and potentially avoid OSHA citations?
Summer is here and a heat wave with hotter than normal temperatures has already hit much of the Midwest. Now is the time for employers to evaluate how worker exposures to heat are managed and effectively controlled. In addition, OSHA has recently launched a targeted program to protect workers across the nation from the increasing threat of heat-related illness.
· According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 1992 through 2020 exposure to excessive environmental heat killed nearly 1,000 U.S. workers and seriously injured over 75,000 more. These figures are in all likelihood vast underestimates due to underreporting. Heat stress illnesses include Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
· Outdoor workers, such as those in construction, are at greater risk due to ambient conditions (heat, sun, etc.), physical exertion, Personal Protective Equipment worn for some work, and longer hours (particularly during the summer construction season).
· Indoor workers are also at risk in foundries, manufacturing and other environments.
· Workers impacted by heat are likely to be less productive and potentially even unable to perform their jobs.
Recognize the hazard and develop a Heat Illness Prevention Program (HIPP) to keep employees safe. While the infographic below provides some tips, and HIPP should be customized to your company's operations, types of heat exposures, available controls and other factors. A major component of the HIPP must be the education of workers and management.
· The NEP creates, for the first time, a nationwide enforcement mechanism for OSHA to proactively inspect workplaces for heat-related hazards. This means that OSHA can now launch heat-related inspections on high-risk worksites (like construction) before workers suffer preventable injuries, illnesses, or fatalities.
· The NEP establishes heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher.
· OSHA will conduct programmed (pre-planned) inspections in targeted high-risk industries (like construction) on any day that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory for the local area.
Amerisafe Consulting and Safety Services has the technical expertise to help any employer assess the risks of heat stress and develop a customized Heat Illness Prevention Program. We also have qualified occupational health staff to provide education and guidance on heat illness prevention, recognition of symptoms, first aid and medical procedures, and other valuable services.