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OSHA Fails to Prove Feasible, Effective Abatement for Excessive Heat Hazard, Commission Rules

March 7, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Jackson Lewis

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) successfully established the existence of an excessive heat hazard for which the agency cited the employer, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) has ruled, resolving a question open since 2019.

The quasi-judicial body overseeing enforcement actions by OSHA made its ruling on a series of citations issued to the United States Postal Service (USPS) under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(1)) for heat hazards. The general duty clause provides: “Each employer … shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

OSHRC agreed that OSHA had established the cited conditions posed a hazard. Even so, in four of the five cases, OSHRC vacated the citations because OSHA failed to establish a feasible and effective means of abatement. Secretary of Labor v. USPS, OSHRC Nos. 16-1713, 16-1872, 17-0023, & 17-0279 (Feb. 17, 2023). In the fifth case, OSHRC found USPS failed to provide effective training to supervisors on heat-related illnesses. Secretary of Labor v. USPS, OSHRC No. 16-1813 (Feb. 17, 2023).

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