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The U.S. Department of Labor Has Proposed a Rule to Protect Millions of Workers From Extreme Heat.
Jul 12, 2024

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a rule to protect millions of workers from extreme heat. This initiative aims to safeguard around 36 million indoor and outdoor workers by reducing heat-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

Addressing a Major Hazard

Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., with workers of color disproportionately affected by high-risk heat exposure jobs. Excessive heat can lead to serious health issues, including heat stroke and death.

Key Provisions

The proposed rule requires employers to develop injury and illness prevention plans to manage heat hazards. Key elements include:

  • Evaluating heat risks.
  • Providing drinking water, rest breaks, and indoor heat control.
  • Protecting new or returning workers who are not yet acclimatized to high heat.

Employers must also:

  • Train workers to recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses.
  • Implement procedures for heat emergencies.
  • Act immediately if a worker shows symptoms of heat-related illness.

Public Involvement and Current Efforts

The public can submit comments on the proposed rule once it is published in the Federal Register. A public hearing is expected after the comment period.

Meanwhile, OSHA continues to educate employers and enforce heat safety regulations. Since 2022, the National Emphasis Program on Heat-Related Hazards has conducted over 5,000 inspections to prevent heat-related injuries and deaths.

Focus on Vulnerable Workers

OSHA prioritizes inspections in agricultural industries employing temporary H-2A workers, who face additional risks due to language barriers, living conditions, and lack of acclimatization.

Impact on Railroad Employees

For railroad employees, the proposed rule is crucial. It ensures better protection from extreme heat, mandates preventive measures, and requires emergency response protocols. Employers in the railroad industry will be accountable for adhering to these standards, improving workplace safety and comfort.

Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
917 Shenandoah Shores Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
  (540) 622-6522

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