Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

OSHA’s Proposed Heat Illness Prevention Standard Is at the White House for Review: What’s Next?

June 13, 2024


As detailed below, the proposal is expected to include temperature levels triggering coverage under the standard, acclimatization protocols employers must follow for new workers and workers returning from an absence, mandatory breaks, and employee training. OSHA has been working on a proposal since President Biden issued Executive Order 13990 on climate change in January 2021.

Despite the fanfare from OSHA regarding enforcement, OSHA has issued relatively few General Duty Clause citations alleging overexposure to heat. As of February 2024—almost two years after implementation of the NEP—OSHA had issued fifty-three citations alleging overexposure to heat. General Duty Clause cases can be difficult for OSHA to prove, and that is particularly true with a somewhat amorphous hazard like heat. As a result, OSHA has often not been successful in sustaining violations in litigation. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission vacated citations in the Secretary of Labor v. Sturgill Roofing and Secretary of Labor v. United States Postal Service cases. OSHA cited the Sturgill holding as one reason a standard is necessary.

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