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Paduda: OSHA Makes Progress on Heat Exposure

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In a key step to help protect workers from excessive heat, OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) met to review a draft rule’s initial regulatory framework.

Joe Paduda

Joe Paduda

While we wait for OSHA’s rulemaking process to wend its way to fruition, inspections are happening under a National Emphasis Program intended to encourage “early interventions by employers to prevent illnesses and deaths among workers during high heat conditions … by adding an enforcement program targeting specific high-hazard industries or activities in workplaces where this hazard is prevalent during high heat conditions."

The OSHA instruction is here.

We all know increasing heat is endangering workers; more and more research demonstrates heat increases claims and can kill workers. While OSHA’s rule will eventually be helpful, it is unethical and immoral for us to wait on the feds before we protect workers.

This is particularly timely, as a massive heat wave slowly moves east.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve made several attempts to get two of the industry’s better-known pundits — Bob Wilson and Mark Walls — to help encourage state and local government regulators and politicians to protect workers from increasing heat risks.

Bob, Mark and I have worked together on issues including physician dispensing, third-party administrator fee disclosure, opioid overuse, calling out politicians for really awful behavior, conference planning — lots of stuff.

I'm hoping Bob and Mark will lend their support to this effort. Both are very influential, and their advocacy would undoubtedly help save lives and prevent heat-related accidents.

In the meantime, local RIMS chapters and other industry groups should seriously consider adding heat to their agenda of work to be done.

What does this mean for you?

Depends. Do we really want to protect workers and their families? 

If you need proof this is bad and getting worse, there’s this.

Joseph Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates, a consulting firm focused on improving medical management programs in workers’ compensation. This column is republished with his permission from his Managed Care Matters blog.

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