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OSHA Launches Broad Heat Illness Prevention Initiative, Including Pending Rulemaking

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On Monday, following remarks by President Biden related to his Administration taking steps to combat extreme heat conditions across the nation, Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching “…enhanced, expanded measures to protect workers from hazards of extreme heat, indoors and out.” Acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA Jim Frederick noted that, “while agricultural and construction workers often come to mind first when thinking about workers most exposed to heat hazards, without proper safety actions, sun protection and climate-control, intense heat can be harmful to a wide variety of workers indoors or outdoors and during any season.”

The “enhanced measures to protect workers better in hot environments and reduce the dangers of exposure to ambient heat” will cover virtually all industries as well as for indoor and outdoor environments. The specific actions will include:

                  - Prioritizes heat-related inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80

                  - Implement procedures for breaks, water, rest, shade and other options

  • Development of a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections; and
  • An imminent proposed rulemaking this October, to “develop a workplace heat standard.”

Of particular and immediate importance to ready mixed concrete operations, OSHA has directed its area directors to:

  • Prioritize inspections of heat-related complaints, referrals and employer-reported illnesses and initiate an onsite investigation where possible;
  • Instruct compliance safety and health officers during their travels to job sites to conduct an intervention (providing the agency's heat poster/wallet card, discuss the importance of easy access to cool water, cooling areas and acclimatization) or opening an inspection when they observe employees performing strenuous work in hot conditions; and
  • Expand the scope of other inspections to address heat-related hazards where worksite conditions or other evidence indicates these hazards may be present.

NRMCA will continue to monitor OSHA’s actions on heat-related workplace hazards and advocate for beneficial industry outcomes both individually and in coordination with other industry stakeholders.

Click here to review the DOL announcement and here to review President Biden’s remarks on extreme heat. For more information, contact Kevin Walgenbach at


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