Temperatures are already soaring into the 100’s this summer. There are now permanent requirements for employers to protect employees who work in the heat from heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These basic protections will help avoid preventable deaths such as the tragic death of Sebastian Francisco Perez who died due to heat exhaustion and dehydration.
What the heat rule does: Effective June 15, 2022
- Applies to outdoor and indoor (when there is no mechanical ventilation) work activities, where the heat index equals or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Requires one or more shade areas immediately and readily available to exposed employees who are outdoors.
- Requires an adequate supply of drinking water for exposed employees, with immediate availability, no cost, and the opportunity to drink.
- Requires implementation of an effective rest-break schedule – when the heat index equals or exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit – for preventive cool-down periods. Such breaks are work assignments, with no cost to employees.
- Requires acclimatization to gradually adapt employees to working in heat and to prevent heat illness.
- Requires a heat illness prevention plan – providing consistent messages about expectations for all employees – and supervisor and employee training.
What the wildfire smoke rule does: Effective July 1, 2022
- Applies to employers whose employees are – or will be – exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for fine particulate matter equals or exceeds an Air Quality Index (AQI) 101.
- At AQI 101, the rule requires employers to provide a National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) approved filtering face piece respirator, such as a N95, to all exposed employees for voluntary use.
- Requires employers to ensure employees wear NIOSH-approved respirators at or above AQI 251 and follow Appendix A instead of the full respiratory program. Appendix A does not require medical evaluations and fit testing.
- Requires employers to ensure employees wear NIOSH-approved respirators at or above AQI 501 and follow medical monitoring, fit testing, and other elements of the Respiratory Protection Standard. Requires exposure monitoring and training.
- Requires implementation of communications to relay information before employees are exposed.
- Requires use of engineering and administrative controls, including relocating outdoor workers to enclosed buildings where air can be adequately filtered and relocating work or making work schedule changes to achieve better air quality.
Articles to clarify what is needed to comply with safety requirements: