More than 130 organizations, led by consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, have petitioned OSHA to establish a heat protection standard for workers.
The petition says that a heat stress standard is necessary because global warming has caused more days of extreme heat, and each summer is producing record-breaking temperatures. The petitioners include two former assistant secretaries of labor for OSHA, medical professionals, individuals, and worker welfare groups.
The petitioners ask that employers be required to provide mandatory 15-minute to 45-minute rest breaks at certain heat thresholds, access to shade, and personal protective equipment like cooling vests and light-colored, breathable fabric. Other requested measures include:
· Access to water and electrolytes
· A heat acclimatization plan
· Heat-exposure monitoring
· Medical monitoring for those exposed to heat above certain levels
· Signage warning of the dangers of heat stress
· A written heat alert program
· Instructor-led worker training
· Record-keeping of heat-related injuries and deaths
· Whistleblower protection for those reporting violations of the heat standard
OSHA currently has no heat-specific standards, but it does offer guidelines on preventing workers from suffering heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses. It also provides information on how to recognize heat-related illnesses in coworkers and how to administer first aid.