OSHA has been working a proposed standard for indoor and outdoor heat illness since 2021. This month the proposed standard has been sent to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review.

While the language of the proposed standard has not be released, the rule is expected to include temperatures that trigger requirements under the rule such as mandatory rest breaks. OSHA has previously stated the rules to protect workers from heat illness would be followed after the heat index reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After OIRA reviews the rule, OSHA will publish the standard in the Federal Register. At that point, employers and others will be able to submit comments to the rule. 

OSHA has been issuing citations for heat exposure under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act with limited success. The general duty clause provides: “Each employer … shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” In Secretary of Labor v. United States Postal Service, the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission agreed that OSHA established the heat related condition posed a hazard, but vacated four of the five citations issued because OSHA failed to establish a feasible and effective means of abatement. 

Contact a member of the Husch Blackwell Safety and Health team with any questions about this rulemaking.