With rising temperatures and high numbers of illnesses and injuries, here’s how to comply.
Thousands of U.S. workers suffer heat-related injuries and illnesses every year. With the past seven years ranking as the hottest on record, heat injury and illness prevention are understandably top-of-mind concerns for employers—and OSHA.
In response to the rising number of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) during the summer months, OSHA is rolling out heat-related workplace standards across at-risk industries. In October 2021, the agency released its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in the Federal Register.
But while these new standards are helpful, protecting workers isn’t solely the responsibility of OSHA—employers must also do their part to keep contract and full-time workers safe from summer heat.
Why Do SIFs Spike in the Summer Months?
After analyzing more than 60,000 recordable incidents and data extracted from OSHA 300 Logs, ISN’s team discovered that the highest number of SIFs occur in July and August. Employees in industries like construction and agriculture tend to work longer hours in these months due to extended periods of sunlight. As a result, fatigue and reduced physical and cognitive reaction times can take a toll on these workers.
Severe heat exposure can also exacerbate existing health issues like kidney disease, heart ailments and asthma. Other heat-induced risks include rashes, cramps and in severe cases, heat strokes. These symptoms and illnesses pose a significant risk to workers, especially those who operate in dangerous conditions like at tall heights or with heavy machinery and equipment.