As we move into the warmer months, it is crucial for businesses to be aware of OSHA’s focus on heat-related workplace issues and its continued effort to adopt specific OSHA standards relating to heat—which currently do not exist. These efforts are part of the agency’s broader climate change-related activities, which now extend to developing new heat-related standards and conducting more rigorous inspections.

Since 2022, OSHA has ramped up its efforts through nearly 5,000 federal heat-related inspections under its National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards. The agency is specifically targeting industries known for high heat exposure: general industry workplaces with warmer conditions, outdoor construction sites, and agriculture involving seasonal workers. This increased scrutiny involves programmed inspections, particularly in the agricultural sector that employs temporary, nonimmigrant H-2A workers. These workers are being singled out by OSHA for these inspections.

Given these developments, businesses must revisit and enhance their heat-related safety protocols and plans to align with the stricter OSHA oversight and emphasis. These plans should document and include providing sufficient cool water, rest breaks, shaded or cool rest areas, and gradual acclimation for new or returning workers to high heat environments. This approach will safeguard both the health of workers and the operations of affected businesses as they navigate this on-going government emphasis on heat and climate.