Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


FL Bill Targets Heat-Related Injury Prevention

Friday, March 15, 2019

Comment | More

A Florida lawmaker brought forth a bill last week that would set a statewide standard for those working outdoors in relation to heat illness prevention.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, would mandate that workers be given plenty of drinking water, access to shade and 10-minute rest breaks enforced after every two hours of outside labor.

If the bill passed, Florida would become one of just a few states that have heat-related work mandates.

The Guides

While the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines and recommendations to avoid heat hazards, there is no set standard for heat exposure.

© iStock.com / daizuoxin

A Florida lawmaker brought forth a bill last week that would set a statewide standard for those working outdoors in relation to heat illness prevention.

The lack of a standard has been called to task recently, however, with a petition backed by more than 130 industry organizations that began circulating last year.

Led by nonprofit Public Citizen, the petition calls for OSHA to do more than just point to suggested guidelines provided by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and argued that, as the climate changes, workers are experiencing more and more heat stress every year, which can take a dangerous toll on the body.

“There is an undiagnosed epidemic of heat-related illness and death in this country, and the problem will get much worse very quickly because of global warming,” said David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program.

“Some of our most vulnerable workers are at the highest risk. We need to protect them right away, and we need aggressive action to halt greenhouse gas pollution and stop climate change.”

According to the government, 69,374 workers were seriously injured from heat between 1992 and 2016, and 783 U.S. workers died from heat exposure. By combining climate projects and census data, Public Citizen concluded that, by 2050, more than 1 million agriculture and construction workers will experience 30 days or more of dangerous heat per year.

While OSHA endorses NIOSH’s criteria, it has never created a nationally enforceable rule requiring employers to provide water, rest, shade and, more specifically, acclimatization programs or training to recognize symptoms of heat illness.

OSHA does provide visual indicators for heat index levels, which are the baselines for the NIOSH guidelines. However, those levels were also put under the magnifying glass last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which oversees NIOSH.

Last summer, the CDC released findings from a study that determined whether the heat index limits are effective in protecting workers. The retrospectively reviewed 25 outdoor occupational heat-related illnesses—14 fatal, 11 nonfatal—investigated by OSHA from 2011 to 2016.

Research found that heat stress exceeded exposure limits in all 14 fatalities and in eight of the 11 nonfatal illnesses.

© iStock.com / Double_Vision

Last summer, the CDC released findings from a study that determined whether the heat index limits are effective in protecting workers. The retrospectively reviewed 25 outdoor occupational heat-related illnesses—14 fatal, 11 nonfatal—investigated by OSHA from 2011 to 2016.

OSHA recommends using the heat index to protect workers and separates temperatures into four categories: less than 91 degrees Fahrenheit is a lower level risk that should be met with basic heat and safety training; 91 to 103 degrees is a moderate risk and at that time employers should implement precautions and heighten awareness; 103 to 115 degrees is high risk and additional precautions to protect workers should be taken; and greater than 115 degrees is considered a very high to extreme risk and should trigger “even more aggressive protective measures.”

“Although OSHA does not have an enforceable permissible exposure limit for heat stress, OSHA guidance states that a heat index of [less than 91 degrees Fahrenheit] is associated with ‘lower’ risk of heat-related illness unless other factors (e.g., direct sun, little air movement, strenuous workload or nonbreathable clothing) are present,” the report states.

“However, six of 14 deaths in this report occurred when the heat index was [less than 91 degrees]. Additional evidence supports the possibility of serious illness when the heat index is [less than 91 degrees].”

In Florida

In addition to access to water, shade and breaks, the Florida House bill, and its companion bill in the state Senate, would also require training to spot signs of heat exhaustion and an acclimatization period for workers.

The Orlando Sentinel notes, though, that even though the bill would protect Florida’s many workers in the construction and agriculture industry, the bill has no co-sponsors and has not been assigned any committees, giving it a tough road.

“Florida’s one of the hottest states in the entire country, and … you have humidity added that makes the heat even more debilitating,” said Jeannie Economos, a safety and health coordinator with the Farmworker Association of Florida. “We think it’s about time that Florida steps up.”

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Safety

Comment from Robert Bullard, (3/15/2019, 12:15 PM)

2-3 decades ago FL had a very capable 'State' OSHA inspection program,now completely eviscerated by the guys who have been running Tallahassee for the last 15 or so years. All they really have to do is return to the past and tweak it a bit to bring it up to technical date.


Comment from Michael Halliwell, (3/18/2019, 11:19 AM)

My cynical side comes out to say that it'll take 10 years to get the roll-back to an effective program completed (assuming any legal challenges are settled quickly)....so when you get there, there won't be anyone who remembers how it was done (they'll all be retired) and you'll get the old program run the new way with no experience...I doubt they'd gain anything from the exercise.


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


Advertisements
 
ABKaelin, LLC

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.

 
Sauereisen, Inc.

 
DeFelsko Corporation

 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

 
NLB Corporation

 
Modern Safety Techniques

 
SAFE Systems, Inc.

 
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America

 
Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us