Given that heat stress killed 783 workers and caused serious injuries to 69,374 others between 1992 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawmakers appear to be taking a closer look at OSHA regulations.
A new bill in the House of Representatives would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish federal standards to protect workers in high heat environments.
What is the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act?
Introduced by Reps. Judy Chu (D-California) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona), the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act would:
- Mandate paid breaks in cool spaces with access to water
- Impose limitations on heat exposure working durations
- Require heat illness risk factor training
- Further define proper procedures for responding to heat illness symptoms
What Can You Do to Protect Heat Exposed Employees?
As recommended by OSHA, employers with outdoor workers should follow these steps to prevent heat illness:
Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.