From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short
From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short - June 24, 2022
In an OSHA announcement this spring, US DOL Secretary, Marty Walsh, stated that, “since the early 1990s, the three-year average of workplace deaths caused by heat has doubled. Workers suffer more than 3,500 injuries and illnesses related to heat each year.” With eighteen of the last nineteen summers being hottest on record, OSHA is ramping up to double the number of heat hazard inspections it performs as a part of new Heat Illness National Emphasis Program (NEP). National Emphasis Programs are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high hazard industries. This NEP went into effect in April and will remain in effect for three years unless canceled or extended. The Biden administration is working to establish a heat illness prevention rule.
OSHA has announced its intention to utilize the statute’s general duty clause (GDC) to issue citations against employers. Unfortunately, there remains a lot of ambiguity regarding what will constitute compliance under the new NEP. Without clear guidance establishing how Safety and Health Officers will evaluate contractor’s implementation of protocols, consistent and fair enforcement are an industry concern. OSHA has provided a Heat NEP Factsheet providing some background and guidance.
AGC has reviewed what guidance OSHA has provided and believes it remains unclear if following the established Water, Rest, Shade protocols under OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign will be enough. On June 8, AGC sought clarification from OSHA on several aspects of the program. AGC is holding a Construction Safety, Health and Environmental Conference in Washington D.C. from July 26-28 covering OSHA’s discretion and its use of the GDC among other subjects. To learn more about the conference and to register click here.
As always, DCA is a resource for your team’s safety as well. As in summers past, DCA is ready to come to your job site and make our presentation on how to work safely during high heat periods. Many of our members have taken us up on this training, if your company would like DCA to visit a job site this summer, please contact Jamie Chambers, Director of Workforce Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep cool, keep safe, and enjoy your summer!