Federal OSHA previously announced the creation of the Heat Illness National Emphasis Program (NEP) and signaled its intent to take a more proactive approach to prevent heat related illnesses. Now various states, including Nevada, are moving to adopt their own regulations regarding heat related illnesses. Understanding Nevada’s response to the NEP will help your business keep its employees healthy and beat the heat.
Through the NEP, OSHA identified 70 industries which have a heightened chance of heat related illnesses. These industries include both construction and non-construction employers as well as outdoor and indoor worksites. On “heat priority days” Federal OSHA intends to conduct field inspections, ask employers about their heat-related hazard prevention programs, and assess the potential for heat-related serious illnesses and injuries for that employer. Federal OSHA defines a heat priority day as a day when the heat index (a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature) is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Federal OSHA will prioritize conducting field inspections for complaints and all employer-reported hospitalizations, relating to heat hazards. Additionally, the local OSHA offices will generate a list of employers that fall within the 70 identified industries and begin random inspections of these businesses on any day that the National Weather Service has announced a heat warning or advisory for the local area
Nevada’s Response to OSHA’s NEP
Like Federal OSHA, Nevada OSHA is in the process of adopting a new regulation governing heat hazards. Until the new regulation is adopted, and in an effort to support Federal OSHA’s NEP, Nevada OSHA announced it will prioritize site inspections for the 70 high-risk industries identified by Federal OSHA, as well as additional industries identified by Nevada OSHA. However, due to Nevada’s desert climate, Nevada defines a heat priority day as any day where the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of Federal OSHA’s target of 80 degrees.
How Your Business Can Beat the Heat
Employers are encouraged to be proactive about heat hazards and take common sense actions to safeguard employees. This includes advising employees about heat-related illnesses, developing a heat illness prevention plan, and providing rest breaks, shade, and easily accessible cold drinking water. Indoor employers should ensure there is adequate ventilation, cooling fans, and air conditioning when available.
If you have questions about this blog, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you often work, the authors of this blog, or any member of our Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group.