New legislation in the House and Senate would accelerate OSHA’s timeline for issuing a one-size-fits-all national heat standard.
On July 26, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced legislation (S. 2504/H.R. 4897) directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an enforceable heat standard for workers exposed to high temperatures in approximately two years. The bill specifically cites construction workers as suffering among the highest incidences of heat illness. The bill introduction comes a day after 110 Democratic members of Congress urged the heads of the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA to “implement this standard as soon as possible.”
AGC testified against similar legislation in 2019, citing the industry’s thorough, proactive work on this subject and informed lawmakers that legislation mandating OSHA to quickly formulate a one-size-fits-all national standard to address workplace heat exposure is unwarranted. That remains the case today and, in fact, the bill’s shortened timeframe to develop a rule runs counter to the regulatory process OSHA is already undertaking to issue such a standard.
AGC remains actively engaged with OSHA on heat-related hazards. The agency, for example, recently issued at AGC’s request and with its input clarifying guidance on contractors’ obligations under its heat-related hazards national emphasis program to better assist with effectively protecting workers from hazards related to heat, while also avoiding citations during any enforcement proceedings. The association is also engaging the U.S. Small Business Administration on OSHA’s effort to take the next regulatory steps necessary to issue a national heat standard.
While the bill is unlikely to advance in a Republican-controlled House, it will put continued pressure on the Administration to stringently enforce against heat-related hazards and to advance a national heat standard.
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