ASSP Publishes First Construction Heat Standard

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2024


Earlier this week, the American Society of Safety Professionals issued the first national voluntary consensus standard to address heat stress for construction and demolition workers.

“This new industry consensus standard is an important development because there is no federal regulation focused on heat stress,” said ASSP President Jim Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA.

“Employers need expert guidance on how to manage heat-related risks. They must have the tools and resources to identify and help prevent work hazards before an incident occurs.”

According to the news release from ASSP, ANSI/ASSP A10.50-2024, Heat Stress Management in Construction and Demolition Operations:

  • Offers guidance on protecting workers;
  • Explains how to acclimate workers to high heat conditions; and
  • Provides requirements for training employees and supervisors.

The standard also contains checklists and flowcharts designed to help companies develop clear and effective heat stress management programs that bridge the regulatory gap.

“There are tens of thousands of heat-related illnesses each year linked to construction and demolition sites, and workers have died from exposures to excessive heat,” said John Johnson, CSP, chair of the ANSI/ASSP A10 standards committee.

“This new standard outlines industry best practices and proven solutions to protect workers who commonly do strenuous jobs in challenging conditions.”

The A10.50 standard also reportedly identifies engineering and administrative controls a company can implement to ensure that workers get rest, water breaks and shade while still meeting business needs.

The ASSP recommends actions as medical monitoring and using a buddy system to reduce risks and help prevent heat-related illnesses in many work environments.

While the scope of the standard focuses on construction and demolitions, the guidance can be adapted to protect workers performing other outdoor jobs such as tree trimming, farming, road maintenance and pipeline painting.

The impacts of heat stress can range from mild symptoms such as heat rash and heat cramps to severe conditions including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal, ASSP says.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 400 work-related deaths have been caused by environmental heat exposure since 2011. The new standard includes a detailed emergency response plan if a worker has a severe reaction to excessive heat.

The A10.50 subcommittee that wrote the standard consisted of 30 safety and health experts from businesses, trade unions, consulting firms, universities and government agencies. The process reportedly took three years.

“Voluntary consensus standards provide the latest expert guidance and fill gaps where federal standards don’t exist. Companies rely on them to drive improvement, injury prevention and sustainability,” explained the society. “With government regulations being slow to change and often out of date, federal compliance is not sufficient to protect workers.”

Heat Effect Study

At the beginning of the year, international construction services company Turner Construction worked to better understand the effects of heat on the health of construction workers and the overall effect on the industry.

A pilot study was completed at a data center project in Kansas City, Missouri, in collaboration with researchers from the University of New Mexico, Indiana University and La Isla Network.

The researchers reportedly monitored 33 workers for a full day in the summer, using heart rate monitors and other devices to collect physiological data such as internal body temperature, hydration level and heart rate.

Researchers also then connected with workers at the end of the workday to gather perceived-related data about how hot and tired they felt.

The team reportedly found that 43% of workers experienced a peak core temperature exceeding 100.4 F, with 4% exceeding 101.3 F, even in conditions that [were] cooler than typical summer condition. Turner reports that one other takeaway from the study could offer a simple opportunity for improvement, such as hydrating before work.

OSHA Heat Standard

In June last year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urged small business owners and local government representatives to discuss the potential impacts of a workplace heat standard on small businesses.

According to the release, OSHA is developing a potential standard for workplaces—in which the agency has jurisdiction—to prevent heat illness and injury in outdoor and indoor environments in general industry and in the construction, maritime and agriculture industries.

As part of the process, OSHA is holding Small Business Advocacy Review Panel meetings this summer to gather views on the potential effects of a heat standard on small businesses.

The panel will reportedly be comprised of representatives from OSHA, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Originally published on Oct. 27, 2021, in the Federal Register, the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings rulemaking seeks to protect indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat.

In addition, the rulemaking also seeks to obtain additional information about the extent and nature of hazardous heat in the workplace and the nature and effectiveness of interventions and controls used to prevent heat-related injury and illness.

   

Tagged categories: American Society of Safety Professionals; Certifications and standards; Construction; Demolition; Good Technical Practice; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Heat-related injury; Labor; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Safety; Workers

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