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DOL/OSHA RIN: 1218-AD39 Publication ID: Spring 2021 
Title: ●Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings 

Heat is the leading weather-related killer, and it is becoming more dangerous as 18 of the last 19 years were the hottest on record.  Excessive heat can cause heat stroke and even death if not treated properly.  It also exacerbates existing health problems like asthma, kidney failure, and heart disease.  Workers in agriculture and construction are at highest risk, but the problem affects all workers exposed to heat, including indoor workers without climate-controlled environments. Essential jobs where employees are exposed to high levels of heat are disproportionately held by Black and Brown workers.

Heat stress killed 815 US workers and seriously injured more than 70,000 workers from 1992 through 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  However, this is likely a vast underestimate, given that injuries and illnesses are underreported in the US, especially in the sectors employing vulnerable and often undocumented workers.  Further, heat is not always recognized as a cause of heat-induced injuries or deaths and can easily be misclassified, because many of the symptoms overlap with other more common diagnoses.

To date, California, Washington, Minnesota, and the US military have issued heat protections.  OSHA currently relies on the general duty clause (OSH Act Section 5(a))(1)) to protect workers from this hazard. Notably, from 2013 through 2017, California used its heat standard to conduct 50 times more inspections resulting in a heat-related violation than OSHA did nationwide under its general duty clause.  It is likely to become even more difficult to protect workers from heat stress under the general duty clause in light of the 2019 Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission’s decision in Secretary of Labor v. A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Inc.

OSHA was petitioned by Public Citizen for a heat stress standard in 2011.  The Agency denied this petition in 2012, but was once again petitioned by Public Citizen, on behalf of numerous organization (~130), for a heat stress standard in 2018 and 2019.  These petitions have not been granted or denied to date.  In 2019, Democratic members of the Senate also urged OSHA to initiate rulemaking to address heat stress.

Given the potentially broad scope of regulatory efforts to protect workers from heat hazards, as well as a number of technical issues and considerations with regulating this hazard (e.g., heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning, exposure monitoring, medical monitoring), a Request for Information would allow the agency to begin a dialogue and engage with stakeholders to explore the potential for rulemaking on this topic.

Agency: Department of Labor(DOL)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Prerule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: None     (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)
Legal Authority: Not Yet Determined   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Request for Information  10/00/2021 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Andrew Levinson
Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance
Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW, FP Building, Room N-3718,
Washington, DC 20210
Phone:202 693-1950