Heat and Cold: What you need to know

The federal workplace safety and health statutes contain a broad General Duty Clause (GDC) that requires all employers to furnish a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.…” The GDC is meant to apply when a recognized hazard exists for which there is not (or not yet) a precise standard, such as hot or cold conditions that are hazardous to employees.

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There are also specific federal regulations that require employers to shield workers from radiant heat sources, to evaluate the workplace for the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), and to train pesticide handlers to protect themselves from heat-related illnesses while working outside.

General Duty Clause
29 USC 654

Employers must protect employees from conditions that cause injury or illness from work-related heat stress. All activities and facilities that are regulated by federal OSHA and where hazardous hot conditions are present are covered under the federal statute know as the general duty clause (GDC).

Types of regulated activities. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for inducing heat stress in employees engaged in such operations. Heat stress is a recognized hazard in outdoor operations conducted in hot weather such as construction, refining, asbestos removal, and hazardous waste site activities, especially those that require workers to wear semipermeable or impermeable protective clothing.

Types of regulated employers. Employers regulated by OSHA ...

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