On July 2, 2024, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the official text of its Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings proposed standard. OSHA has been developing this standard since 2021, which will likely be finalized later this year.

The standard includes general mandates for all covered employers, along with additional requirements when the heat index reaches 80 degrees and others when the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees (the “high heat trigger”). Steps employers will be required to take, include:

General requirements to:

  • Develop and implement a work site heat injury and illness prevention plan
  • Identify heat hazards, including through a heat monitoring plan
  • Develop heat illness and emergency response procedures
  • Train employees and supervisors
  • Implement a heat injury and illness prevention plan
  • Follow recordkeeping requirements including maintaining monitoring data

Requirements at or above heat triggers to:

  • Provide drinking water to employees
  • Make outdoor and indoor break areas available
  • Ensure employees receive rest breaks
  • Implement outdoor and indoor work area controls
  • Develop an acclimatization plan for new or returning workers

The proposed federal standard’s regulatory triggers and requirements are similar to the outdoor and indoor heat illness prevention rules passed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in July 2006 and June 2024, although the Cal/OSHA heat illness standards have more stringent requirements with slightly different temperature triggers. The Cal/OSHA rules also apply more employer-specific exemptions, which will require employers with operations in California to assess whether the federal standards apply even when they may be exempt under Cal/OSHA requirements.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its formal review of the proposed federal standard on July 1, 2024 with the publication of the proposed rule expected in the Federal Register in the coming days. After publication, stakeholders and interested parties will have 120 days to submit comments. Once finalized, the standard will automatically take effect for states without an OSHA State Plan. States with approved OSHA State Plans that don’t already have sufficiently conservative rules will adopt the federal rule or develop their own equivalent standards – which will take time.