ACCA Comments on Proposed OSHA Heat Stress Rule
Late last month ACCA commented on OSHA’s proposed heat stress rule which aims to “mitigate the effects of heat stress and heat related illness” through a number of policies including mandated breaks in compliant, sheltered or shaded areas as well as priority enforcement days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In its comment, ACCA stated that for some contractors, especially those working on remote jobsites that are difficult to get to, it could be more difficult for a contractor to find a compliant place to rest than it would be for them to simply take a break where they are. Further, it was our opinion that an 80 degree threshold for enforcement is entirely arbitrary, especially since there are many parts of the country (especially in the south and southwest) where the average temperature is above 80 degrees for much of the year. Finally, we informed OSHA that contractors are no strangers to working in the heat, and most HVACR contracting companies have detailed plans in place for workers on how to deal with working the heat including providing cooling towels and pads, ready access to water and electrolytes, and guidance on when to rest or take breaks among other policies. Since heat stress can easily take workers off the job, contractors have everything to lose and nothing to gain when it comes to dealing with work in the heat. A one-size-fits all approach from OSHA does not take into account the unique circumstances of individual workers and their health histories or previous acclimation to working in the heat. Nor does it take into account the differences between various industries and the nature of work being performed or understanding a given company might have when it comes to dealing with heat stress and related illnesses.
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