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OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program for Heat Hazards

Thursday, April 14, 2022

OSHA launched its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for protecting workers from heat hazards in indoor and outdoor workplaces on April 12, 2022. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections before workers suffer preventable injuries, illnesses or fatalities. The NEP is effective on April 8, 2022, and will remain in effect for three years unless canceled or extended by a superseding directive.  The danger of extreme heat increases each year due to continuing effect of climate change 18 of the last 19 summers were the hottest n record.

NEP Background

The NEP establishes heat priority days when the heat index is expected to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. On those priority days, OSHA will:

  • Initiate compliance assistance in the targeted high-risk industries; and
  • Continue to investigate any alleged heat-related fatality/catastrophe, complaint or referral regardless of whether the worksite falls within a targeted NEP industry.

The NEP encourages employers to protect their workers from heat hazards during heat priority days by providing them with access to water, rest, shade, adequate training and acclimatization procedures for new or returning employees.

Impacted Industries

The NEP targets over 70 industries that present a high risk for heat hazards. OSHA identified these industries based on Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA report data, which finds that high-risk industries exhibit the following:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics data on incidence rates of heat-related illnesses and number of employee days away from work rate;
  • Elevated numbers of fatalities or hospitalizations reported by employers to OSHA; and
  • Highest number of heat-related general duty clause 5(a)(1) violations and Hazard Alert Letters over a 5-year period, or highest number of OSHA heat inspections since 2017.

Why NEP is necessary

  • Workers suffer over 3,500 injuries and illnesses related to heat each year.
  • Low-wage workers and workers of color disproportionally make up the population of employees exposed to high levels of heat, intensifying socioeconomic and racial inequalities.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.