Without a legal standard setting out what must be done to prevent heat deaths, workplace regulators have a hard time making violations stick.
Wingo, the former OSHA manager, said the agency struggles to make willful violations stick because there is no federal heat standard. Adopting one could even increase financial penalties and open the door to criminal prosecution.
Indeed, judges with the review commission cited the lack of a science-based standard in recent worker heat-exposure cases filed against two companies. The commission sided with both employers; one of them, the United States Postal Service, has six recorded worker heat deaths since 2012.