Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Labor and Industry
Safety and Health Codes Board
Heat Illness Prevention Standard [16 VAC 25 ‑ 210]
Action NOIRA on Heat Illness Prevention
Comment Period Ended on 6/9/2021
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6/9/21  10:20 am
Commenter: Doris Crouse-Mays, Virginia AFL-CIO

Support Heat Illness Prevention Standard, 16VAC25-210

The Virginia AFL-CIO is pleased that the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and Safety and Health Codes Board is moving forward with the first step to issue a rule to protect workers from heat illness.

With this action, Virginia is positioned to become the fourth state to ensure workers are protected from dangerously hot working conditions—showing their commitment to protecting working people.

These other states have effective standards in place that the Virginia standard can be based on.

The general duty clause has not been sufficient to protect workers from heat illness. 

In 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission overturned a federal OSHA general duty clause citation after a roofer died from heat illness. (See the Secretary of Labor v. A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Inc. case) 

As we transition into summer, we are reminded of the extreme temperatures in Virginia and the toll they take on working people.  Heat illnesses can occur in outdoor or indoor workplaces when workers are not provided adequate water, rest periods, shade, and cool air.Excessive heat exposure causes serious medical conditions, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, fainting, heat rash, heat cramps, and muscle breakdown among workers—and can even lead to death.

Workers who are new to working in extreme temperatures are at even higher risk of heat illness and death. Heat can also contribute to other injuries due to slippery sweat, fogging personal protective equipment, dizziness, and hot tools.  Preventing overexposure to heat is simple when employers have a plan. 

Employers must be required to assess the temperature and working conditions and use proven control measures to prevent heat illnesses.  Controls that must be required include: 

o Measuring temperature and humidity
o Provide clean drinking water
o Provide frequent rest periods in shaded or cooler areas
o Provide clothing that doesn’t hold in body heat
o Accumulate workers to working in the heat by gradually increasing the workload.
o Train workers on heat illness
o Monitor workers for signs of heat illness

Heat illness is prevented when employers develop and implement plans adaptable for their workplaces.

We Virginia AFL-CIO strongly supports Virginia’s efforts to move forward with developing and issuing a standard to protect workers from heat illness and will continue engaging in the rulemaking process to ensure Virginia has a strong, comprehensive standard to protect workers from heat illness.

CommentID: 99004