OSHA Launches new Strategies to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

October 25, 2021

MassCOSH and labor groups around the nation are celebrating years of grassroots organizing paying off as the Biden Administration announced a new initiative this past September to protect workers and communities from extreme heat due to climate change. The initiative prioritizes heat-related interventions and inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

OSHA Area Directors across the nation will institute the following: 

  • Prioritize inspections of heat-related complaints, referrals and employer-reported illnesses and initiate an onsite investigation where possible. 
  • Instruct compliance safety and health officers, during their travels to job sites, to conduct an intervention (providing the agency's heat poster/wallet card, discuss the importance of easy access to cool water, cooling areas and acclimatization) or opening an inspection when they observe employees performing strenuous work in hot conditions. 
  • Expand the scope of other inspections to address heat-related hazards where worksite conditions or other evidence indicates these hazards may be present. 

The news comes as a relief to many workers who have suffered increasingly hot summers in Massachusetts. During a brutal heatwave this past June, MassCOSH was contacted by La Colaborativa after they received a call from workers at a large laundromat in Chelsea who were experiencing significant heat stress symptoms. MassCOSH arrived on the scene and recorded temperatures of 95 degrees inside the laundromat. With humidity that day at 75%, this created a shocking heat index of approximately 106 to 120 degrees.  MassCOSH has also worked closely with Boston Public Schools teachers and students to address extreme heat in the classrooms.  OSHA’s new strategies will provide more tools to protect workers from rising temperatures.