The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is considering the creation of a new standard with the goal of protecting workers from hazardous heat in indoor and outdoor work settings.
As part of its review process, OSHA is contemplating various requirements for employers to follow in a potential standard, such as the creation of a written heat injury and illness prevention program, providing cool water and shaded and/or cooling areas for workers, mandated rest breaks and additional recordkeeping requirements, among others.
On Sept. 7, OSHA held its first of several Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panels to explore the impact of a new standard on small businesses, as required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).
NAHB remodeler member Paul Criner served as a Small Entity Representative on the Sept. 7 panel, telling OSHA and U.S. Small Business Administration staff a federal standard must be flexible and feasible for small businesses to comply.
“Having a heat standard that allows employers to provide reasonable care for their employees gives businesses the ability to work with the resources they have while ensuring the safety of their workers,” Criner said.
Criner also discussed his concerns of placing these requirements on multi-employer jobsites.
“You have to be aware of the contractor-subcontractor relationship on these jobsites, because that gets into the issue of a worker being your employee versus being an independent contractor,” he said.
Criner also recommended taking a “regional approach” to setting temperature levels that would trigger different requirements, as well as allowing employers to encourage rest breaks as needed, as opposed to requiring breaks at specific times during a work shift.
Following the SBREFA panel discussions, OSHA’s panel report will be entered into the regulatory docket on Regulations.gov and will later be followed by a proposed rulemaking that will be open for public comment.
NAHB will closely monitor the advancement of the potential new standard and provide appropriate comment. Consult NAHB resources on heat stress on jobsites to keep workers safe and healthy in high-heat environments.