In an effort to reduce heat-related illnesses and injuries for workers, the State of Arizona is stepping up the rate of workplace inspections for employers in high-exposure industries.
On July 17, 2023, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) announced the launch of a “state emphasis program” (SEP) focused on “high heat” industries such as construction and agriculture. One provision of the SEP calls for inspections on any day that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory for the local area.
Arizona employers in any industry that involves outdoor work (or work in non-cooled spaces) should pay special attention to heat safety measures in order to create a safe working environment and avoid inspection violations.
The following steps can help you comply:
Resources. Provide cold potable water, sufficient rest, and shaded rest areas; encourage workers to wear lightweight, breathable, and loose-fitting clothing; and provide access to cooling vests or other personal cooling devices to help regulate body temperature.
Heat safety training. Conduct heat safety training for outdoor workers before they begin their duties. The training should cover preventive measures, emergency-response procedures, and common signs and symptoms of heat-related health conditions so that workers can be alert to and recognize the early signs in themselves and co-workers.
Heat stress monitoring. Regularly monitor weather conditions and heat-stress levels in the workplace and be proactive in assessing risks and implementing appropriate measures to protect workers from extreme heat.
Supervision. Ensure that supervisors are well-informed about heat safety measures and actively monitor employees for signs of heat-related stress. Encourage open communication between workers and supervisors regarding any discomfort or health concerns.
Written plans. Employers may submit plans to ADOSH for review to reduce the risk of heat-related illness and injuries. These plans should reflect the preceding compliance and prevention steps.
Following the recommended steps will not only help you provide a better working environment; it can also protect you from potentially serious financial consequences, such as:
reduced productivity from ill or injured employees and their co-workers;
mandatory workplace shutdowns; and
significant fines from ADOSH, including “failure to abate” fines that can accrue daily.
If you have any questions about whether your employee policies adequately protect your workers from high-heat conditions and help your company comply with the heightened ADOSH inspections, contact your attorney or your human resources or worker safety professional.
See also: Heat Stress: Reducing the Safety Risks to Outdoor Workers (Construction Advisor, May 2022)