Starting April 8th, 2022, companies in the wooden pallet and lumber industry will now be affected by additional regulations set in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Plants within the pallet and lumber industry, must now be ready and prepared to host a heat stress related safety inspection with minimal notice.
This new ruling, launched under a new National Emphasis Program (NEP), focuses on heat stress related issues. Through the NEP, OSHA conducts inspections in industries that are high-risk work sites.
What are OSHA High-Risk Work Sites?
High-risk work sites are any outdoor or indoor work environments that experience high levels of heat, combined with extraneous activity. Due to the nature of our industry, new pallet manufactures, pallet recyclers, and lumber operations facilities would fall underneath this category.
Heat-related inspections will also take priority on days where the National Weather Service declares a heat advisory, or when the outside temperature goes above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius). In Southern regions, outdoor lumber and pallet facilities should prepare for more frequent visits; as this region is prone to extreme heat.
What is the Focus of the Heat-Stress Inspection?
During Heat-Stress inspections, OSHA will be inspecting work-sites for any hazardous environmental factors. These OSHA hazardous environmental factors include: a lack of shade, poor ventilation, and excessive machine-made heat exposure. OSHA will also review on-site safety logs, looking for any heat-related illnesses.
How to Prepare for a Successful Inspection?
In the past, heat-stress inspections were conducted on a reactive basis. With the new heat standards, OSHA is hoping for a proactive approach. The NEP is looking for companies that have response programs and controls already in place, as well as written records of heat stress training taken by employees.
Additionally, OSHA will be surveying for acclimation guidelines, created by the administrative team, for new employees. This is important for employees who have not previously experienced the level of heat commonly found in the pallet and lumber industry.
What are the New Guidelines Exactly?
OSHA is still in the rule making period for the specific guidelines a company must adhere to. As of right now, OSHA want to see that pallet employers have their own set of proper safety guidelines and preventative solutions.
During the interim period, NEP will remain active for three years, until OSHA either cancels, replaces, or extends the program.
How can you prevent heat stress?
To prevent heat stress follow a few simple steps. These steps include: having shaded break areas, available access to cool water, fans, and ensuring that employees wear breathable clothing. All of these steps help plant employees from experiencing heat-related illnesses.