Workers across the state of Pennsylvania often must work in adverse weather conditions, including high outdoor temperatures. Over 130 organizations have joined a collaborative effort to request that OSHA establish a heat protection standard.
The petitioners are requesting multiple protections for workers, including frequent rest breaks, availability of shade, access to water, medical monitoring and personal protective equipment, such as cooling vests. They are also requesting more education and training to prevent heat-exposure related incidents, record keeping of injuries and deaths related to heat exposure and protection for workers who report violations of the heat protection standard.
Any group or agency can request changes to OSHA policies to help make workers safer. Once OSHA has adopted a written standard, it is published in the Federal Register and submitted for comments and review before it is finalized. Temporary standards can be implemented during the review process to protect workers who are in grave danger.
OSHA currently has no standard specific to heat exposure. Risks of heat exposure currently fall under the General Duty Clause, which requires employees to keep workers “free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” OSHA does offer guidelines for recognizing heat-related health problems at work.
Employers and employees who are concerned about workplace safety may benefit from consulting with an attorney experienced in employment law. A workplace accident can be devastating to a business because it can affect the company’s reputation and employee morale and may lead to legal liability in some cases.
People who are concerned about workplace safety may benefit from consulting with an employment lawyer about their rights. An attorney may be able to advise workers about protections that are available to whistleblowers when they need to report unsafe working conditions. Injured employees may be eligible for workers’ compensation to cover their medical bills, lost wages and rehabilitation expenses.