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OSHA Releases Draft of Heat Illness Rule

Proposed rule would require businesses to draw up a heat illness prevention plan.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a draft of its heat illness rule, which will be published shortly in the Federal Register. Once printed, the comment period will begin, allowing stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposal.

Should the rule be finalized, it would require formulating a heat illness prevention plan.

Employer requirements under the standard, or “initial heat trigger,” would go into effect when the heat index in the work area reaches 80° F.

Requirements include:

  • Monitoring employees for heat stress
  • Identifying heat hazards
  • Providing water (1 quart per employee per hour) and rest break areas
  • Indoor work area controls
  • Acclimatization 
  • Hazard alerts
  • Maintenance of personal protective equipment for heat

Additional requirements, known as the “high heat trigger,” would go into effect when the heat index reaches 90° F or the WGBT is equal to NIOSH’s Recommended Exposure Limit. Those requirements include a minimum 15-minute paid rest break for employees every two hours and observing employees for signs and symptoms of heat illness using:

  • A buddy system in which co-workers monitor one other.
  • Observation by a supervisor or heat safety coordinator – “with no more than 20 employees observed per supervisor or heat safety coordinator.”
  • Two-way communication for lone workers.

Employers would also have to place warning signs in indoor work areas where the “ambient temperatures” regularly exceed 120° F.

In May, OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health unanimously approved the proposed rule.