At least 50,000 injuries and illnesses could be avoided in the United States each year with an effective Occupational Safety and Health Administration heat standard, according to a report issued by an advocacy group urging federal regulators to address the problem.
Austin, Texas-based Public Citizen said OSHA, which in 2022 announced a year-long effort to create rules for employers whose workers are at risk of heat illness and death, should create an interim rule that would set temporary guidelines for employers on such things as water requirements , raster and shadow.
The report, released May 25, highlights statistics that Public Citizen says make it imperative for OSHA to immediately establish guidelines: Heat exposure is responsible for an average of 2,000 worker deaths in the U.S. annually, and the dangers of heat stress are borne overwhelmingly by low-income workers , as the lowest paid 20% of workers suffer five times as many heat-related injuries as the highest paid 20%.
“Each year without an OSHA heat stress standard puts the health and lives of more workers at risk,”; the report said. “The risk of heat stress illness, injury and death in the workplace is increasing with climate change, and predictions of extreme temperatures and increased heat waves in 2023 and 2024 make the need for a heat standard more urgent than ever.”