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In October 2021, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in the Federal Register. This potential standard prompted OSHA to established a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group in 2022, while the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) provided recommendations on the Heat Injury and Illness Prevention guidance and rulemaking.

Last fall, OSHA conducted Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panels to gather feedback from small businesses on the impact a heat safety standard might have on their operations. In response to the recommendations provided by 82 small businesses, NAHB has recently submitted formal comments on the topic.

NAHB strongly supports regulations that protect construction workers from illness, injury and death. But the current contours of the potential heat stress standard are largely unworkable, confusing and rigid.

For example, OSHA is considering heat triggers at specific temperatures to signal to business owners when new requirements kick in. A temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit could trigger new “high-heat” safety requirements, including mandating specific amounts of water per worker. Several NAHB members who primarily work in the southwest and other regions indicated the proposed temperature is reached during a majority of days throughout the year, making a nationwide high-heat trigger temperature impractical.

NAHB supports allowing businesses to have the ability to choose from multiple compliance options and the ability to select the best methods for protecting their employees from extreme heat hazards in ways that are workable, flexible and cost-effective.

When considering the subcontractor-heavy nature of residential construction, NAHB strongly urged OSHA to establish that each employer on site is responsible for providing water to its own workers as part of any heat-related standard.

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