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As Summer Temperatures Rise, There's Still No OSHA Heat Standard for Construction Workers

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Jobsite Safety

As Summer Temperatures Rise, There's Still No OSHA Heat Standard for Construction Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers guidance but no enforceable federal standard for protecting workers during extreme heat

July 17, 2023
Construction workers pours water on his face to cool down during heatwave
Image: spaskov / stock.adobe.com

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies temperatures above 77° F as having a "high risk of heat-related illness with strenuous work," yet as temperatures continue to rise across the U.S., breaking records in many parts of the country, construction workers still lack a concrete set of OSHA rules to turn to, Construction Dive reports.

OSHA first introduced its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on heat safety in April 2022 to help protect employees from heat-related hazards and resulting injuries and illnesses. The NEP remains in effect for three years and, according to OSHA, "expands on the agency’s ongoing heat-related illness prevention initiative and campaign by setting forth a targeted enforcement component and reiterating its compliance assistance and outreach efforts." 

But guidance and emphasis are far from a standard, which worker advocates and others have long awaited. Nevertheless, [Gary Orr, health scientist for OSHA’s directorate of enforcement] said, there’s no timeline on when OSHA’s heat standard could become final. 

In the next step of the standards cycle, the agency will welcome small business feedback, but there is no specific date on when that will begin or end either.

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