As summers get hotter, OSHA contemplates heat exposure regulations 


A new rule from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, could for the first time provide federal protection to heat exposure.

It would require companies to invest in employees’ well-being during the hottest parts of the year, nonprofit climate news organization Grist reports. 

Over the past several months, the agency held dozens of public meetings and collected more than 1,000 comments, many from workers but also a number from businesses and business associations worried about the impact any rule regarding heat exposure might have on their bottom line. 

But new research says employers might want to think twice about opposing a heat standard, because unprotected workers will deliver diminishing returns in an ever-hotter world. Meanwhile, labor advocates are trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to push state and local versions of any such rule.  

Over the past 15 years, OSHA has received three petitions to implement a federal heat standard, and the organization began its rulemaking process in 2023. The new policy, which OSHA plans to publish later this year, would require education programs to teach workers and managers how to recognize heat-related illnesses. It would also mandate that employers consider heat stress a medical emergency as well as require regular breaks, drinking water and protective equipment. 

It may also include a requirement that employees be allowed to acclimate to intense heat by working only 20% of a typical workday during the first day of a heat wave and incrementally increasing their hours each day. 

Read the full story about the impending policy from Grist.