NLBMDA Member Alert:
White House Announces Initiatives to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat
This week, the Biden Administration announced new initiatives at the Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal agencies to protect workers from extreme heat in both indoor and outdoor workplace settings. Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards, developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections and launching a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard. OSHA is also forming an advisory committee to provide better understanding of challenges and to identify and share best practices to protect workers.

The new actions from the DOL will be aimed at protecting outdoor workers, including agricultural, construction, and delivery workers, as well as indoor workers, including those in warehouses, factories, and kitchens. Below you will find a summary of the White House’s announcement.

  • Enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards: OSHA will be using existing tools to protect workers in hazardously hot indoor and outdoor settings. OSHA has announced a new enforcement initiative where they will prioritize heat-related interventions and workplace inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80°F. On these days, OSHA Area Directors will dedicate additional resources in responding to heat-related complaints and expand the scope of programmed and unprogrammed inspections to address heat-related hazards. Employers will be encouraged to implement proactive interventions, such as water, rest, and shade, and other important prevention measures such as acclimatization of new or returning workers. Current guidance from OSHA on heat exposure can be found here

  • Workplace heat standard: OSHA has announced an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings. The ANPRM will be published in the Federal Register in October and will initiate a comment period allowing for OSHA to gather stakeholder perspectives and technical expertise on topics including heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning and exposure monitoring. 

  • National Emphasis Program: OSHA is formalizing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on heat hazard cases, which will target high-risk industries and focus OSHA resources and staff time on heat inspections. OSHA is working to complete the NEP before the summer 2022 heat season.

  • Heat Advisory Committee: Within OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), OSHA is forming a Heat Illness Prevention Work Group to provide better understanding of challenges and best practices in protecting workers from heat hazards. This group will include three members of the full NACOSH—a public representative, labor representative, and management representative—as well as new members from a range of sectors and industries.
NLBMDA is closely monitoring these new initiatives by the Biden Administration and will keep members informed on the latest developments. NLBMDA stands ready to work with OSHA and other federal agencies to ensure any new rules and standards do not put an undue burden on lumber and building material dealers.
For any questions, please contact Director of Government Affairs Kevin McKenney at [email protected]
Special Thanks to our Federal Advocacy Sponsors