Advocates Seek Heat Standards from OSHAMay 30, 2019
Hundreds of safety advocates from safety and labor groups across the country want the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and issue federal heat standards to protect workers from excessive heat. Last summer, the groups submitted a petition urging OSHA to commit to this demand. Throughout the past two decades, over 800 U.S. workers sustained fatal injuries due to the heat and around 70,000 suffered from serious illnesses and injuries. Some employees may not realize that the medical problems they experience could be a direct result of working in sweltering conditions, since other diagnoses mirror heat-related health issues.
Lack of Reinforced Heat Standards
Although a handful of states issue heat standards for employers, many states do not have specific standards and rely on OSHA to crack down on businesses when an incident merits attention. OSHA uses the General Duty clause to issue citations to employers who lack set standards, but oftentimes, an employer will not mandate standards for heat stress protection unless required. Federal standards would reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities among workers and protect the productivity of businesses.
Adverse Effects of Heat on Workers
Without federal heat stress standards, employers may fail to develop programs to prevent heat-related health issues and protect workers. This may mean an increase in the number of illnesses and injuries affecting workers, which may result in a reduced labor force due to absences and employees who must go on permanent disability. Businesses will see less productivity, which may cause a significant dent in their bottom lines. Additionally, they may need to provide Workers’ Compensation benefits and pay for other associated costs, such as medical expenses to workers and their families.
Suggested Prevention and Protection Measures
Until OSHA issues federal standards, businesses should set prevention and protection measures in warmer weather. Suggestions include:
- Training staff on heat prevention and protection
- Instituting plans for heat emergencies
- Acclimating workers to hot weather on a gradual basis for up to two weeks
- Providing shaded or air-conditioned areas for breaks
- Scheduling frequent and plentiful water breaks
- Issuing appropriate, reflective clothing
- Using machines in place of physically demanding tasks that may become increasingly draining and dangerous when heat arrives
- Monitoring workers whose health may already be compromised
With measures in place, employers will witness several benefits for their companies and employees.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect Workers’ Rights
If you or someone you love became injured due to an occupational illness or injury, the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will devise a strong case to recover the necessary benefits you will need during the healing process. To see if your injury warrants a Workers’ Compensation claim, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled lawyers. Located in Baltimore, we proudly represent clients throughout Maryland.