Arizona Contractor & Community
Heat Stress: Reducing the safety risks to outdoor workers
By Kent Lang and Jamie Hanson Contractors in central and southern Arizona know all too well the work hazards that accompany Arizona’s notorious summers. OSHA’s recently launched National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat Hazards (NEP) provides a useful reminder of the risks of heat stress and how to help workers avoid it.
Before we describe some of the resources at your disposal, let’s briefly discuss the NEP and its application in Arizona. The NEP, which went into effect April 8 and is scheduled to continue for three years, calls for heat-specific workplace inspections in over 70 high-risk industries (including construction) at locations where the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning or advisory for the local area. For now, per a recent OSHA Defense Report (Conn Maciel Carey), Arizona employers are not directly subject to the program, as workplace safety enforcement in the state is performed by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) under OSHA’s “Arizona State Plan.” According to the Report:
State Plans are strongly encouraged but are not required, to adopt the NEP. By June 7, 2022, the State Plans must submit a notice of intent indicating whether they already have a similar enforcement program in place, or whether they intend to adopt new policies and procedures at least as effective as this NEP.
However, as we reported in our May 3 article, OSHA is threatening to revoke the Arizona State Plan. If it makes good on that threat, all OSHA standards and requirements will go into effect in Arizona (see “OSHA Takeover? How Arizona Contractors Can Prepare”).
Therefore, employers would be wise to double down on heat-stress prevention – not just to satisfy state and federal regulators, but because keeping workers safe, healthy, and on the job is good business.
Heat Stress Avoidance.
As the Industrial Commission of Arizona’s Heat Stress Awareness page notes, “Worksites involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, direct contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illnesses.” For employers, the ICA page provides links to useful resources, including a:
CDC list of heat stress-related recommendations related to workplace controls, training, acclimatization, hydration, rest breaks, etc.;
U.S. Department of Labor overview, “Working in Outdoor and Indoor Heat Environments,” that covers occupational heat exposure, OSHA standards, heat stress prevention, first aid, etc.; and
one-page OSHA QuickCard, “Protecting Workers from Heat Stress.”
If you would like a private-sector perspective on heat stress prevention, these articles might prove useful:
“Tools to Prevent Heat Illness on the Job,” Construction Executive
“How to Handle Heat Stress on the Construction Site,” Safeopedia
“Working in Heat: Heat Illness Prevention in Construction,” Urbint, Inc.
We also recommend that you contact your trade association for information that is specific to your construction trade. For example, the May 11 webinar sponsored by the ASA Health & Safety Committee provided some timely resources, including a presentation by Mobile IV Nurses, “Heat-Related Injuries, OSHA, and How Mobile Hydration Can Benefit Your Employees.” If you have a question about a workplace safety issue or violation, please contact Kent Lang or Jamie Hanson.