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OSHA’s Approach to Regulating Heat Hazards in the Workplace
Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some cases are fatal. Historically, OSHA has regulated heat exposure hazards pursuant to the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the “Act”), which has become OSHA’s “catch-all” provision that requires employers to provide their employees with a place of employment that “is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or series harm to employees.” Likewise, courts have interpreted OSHA’s general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard, including heat-related threats.

In an effort to clarify the obligation employers have to protect employees from heat-related hazards, 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 began the rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard. A standard specific to heat-related injury and illness prevention is thought to provide a clearer set of employer obligations and measures necessary to protect employees more effectively.

Join us as we explore:

• The specifics of OSHA’s proposed rule
• Whether the proposed standard will be an improvement over the general duty clause
• The status of the proposed rule
• The guidance currently available to employers to recognize and address heat hazards
in the workplace.

01:04:00

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Speakers

Darren Harrington
Director @KRCL
Colin Durham
Senior Attorney @KRCL