OSHA is launching a targeted National Emphasis Program (NEP) to protect workers across the nation from the increasing threat of heat-related illness. This NEP is effective as of April 8th and will remain in effect for three years unless canceled or extended by a superseding directive.
OSHA’s NEP creates, for the first time, a nationwide enforcement mechanism for OSHA to proactively inspect workplaces for heat-related hazards in general industry, maritime, construction, or agriculture operation alleging hazardous exposures to heat (outdoors and/or indoors). This means that OSHA can now launch heat-related inspections on high-risk worksites before workers suffer preventable injuries, illnesses, or fatalities.
The NEP encourages employers to protect workers from heat hazards by providing employee access to water, rest, shade, adequate training, and implementing acclimatization procedures for new or returning employees. It contains both enforcement and outreach/compliance assistance components.
The NEP establishes heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher. On heat priority days:
- OSHA will initiate compliance assistance in the targeted high-risk industries.
- OSHA will also continue to inspect any alleged heat-related fatality/catastrophe, complaint, or referral regardless of whether the worksite falls within a targeted industry of this NEP.
- OSHA will conduct programmed (pre-planned) inspections in targeted high-risk industries on any day that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory for the local area.
OSHA also recognizes that many businesses want to do the right thing by developing heat illness prevention plans to keep their employees safe. On heat priority days, OSHA field staff will engage in proactive outreach and technical/compliance assistance to help keep workers safe on the job.