Understanding OSHA’s Proposed Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Rule

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Understanding OSHA’s Proposed Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Rule

July 10, 2024


Heat is a leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, posing a significant risk to workers both indoors and outdoors. Recognizing the gravity of this issue, OSHA is moving forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Work Settings. This regulation aims to establish a comprehensive federal heat standard to safeguard workers from hazardous heat exposure.

Overview of the Proposed Rulemaking

OSHA’s proposed rulemaking represents a crucial step in protecting workers from heat-related hazards. The standard would apply to all employers in sectors such as general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture. Key requirements include the necessity for employers to develop a plan to assess and control heat risks in their workplaces. This plan would delineate employer responsibilities and outline effective protective measures for employees against hazardous heat conditions.

Statistics and Impact

The statistics surrounding heat-related illnesses and fatalities are alarming. From 2011 to 2022, 479 workers in the U.S. died due to environmental heat exposure, averaging 40 deaths per year. Additionally, there were an estimated 33,890 work-related heat injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work between 2011 and 2020, averaging 3,389 incidents annually. These numbers likely underestimate the true extent of heat-related occupational health issues.

Who is at Risk?

Workers in environments without adequate climate control are highly susceptible to hazardous heat exposure. This risk is particularly acute in settings with heat-generating machinery, such as hot tar ovens and furnaces. Certain groups, such as pregnant workers and workers of color in essential roles, face a heightened risk of adverse health effects from heat due to their increased likelihood of working in high-risk settings.

Call to Action

OSHA invites the public to participate by submitting comments on the proposed standard once it is published in the Federal Register. Your input is vital in shaping a final rule that effectively protects workers while being both feasible for employers and grounded in the best available evidence.


Addressing heat-related risks in the workplace is not just a regulatory necessity; it is a moral imperative to protect workers’ health and lives. OSHA’s proposed rulemaking is a promising step toward reducing the incidence of heat-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. By engaging in this process and staying informed, we can collectively ensure a safer working environment for all.

Help us build a safer workplace by understanding and contributing to this critical issue. Contact us for more information on heat-related illnesses and how you can prevent them.