The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Monday announced the issuance of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings, setting the stage for the development of a federal heat standard.

The ANPRM, which will be published in October in the Federal Register, will initiate a comment period on topics including heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring.

Additionally, OSHA announced a new enforcement initiative to prioritize heat-related interventions and workplace inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

“On these days, OSHA Area Directors will dedicate additional resources in responding to heat-related complaints and expand the scope of programmed and unprogrammed inspections to address heat-related hazards,” the White House said in a news release. “In addition to shaping the focus of OSHA field staff, this initiative will also expand on OSHA’s campaign to educate and assist employers on heat illness prevention.”

OSHA will also develop a National Emphasis Program on heat hazard cases, and form within OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) a Heat Illness Prevention Work Group comprised of three members of the full NACOSH – a public representative, labor representative, and management representative – as well as new members from a range of sectors and industries.

“Establishing a new NEP requires extensive data review,” the Biden administration said, “which OSHA is working to complete in order for the NEP to take effect before the Summer 2022 heat season. In doing so, OSHA will build on the existing Regional Emphasis Program for Heat Illnesses in Region VI, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.”

The efforts are all part of an interagency effort the Biden administration announced to respond to extreme heat. The effort ultimately comprises a multi-prong initiative by the DOL as well as other new and recent agency actions to provide cooling assistance, improve local preparedness through data-sharing, and the launch of a heat resilience innovation challenge. A summary of the administration’s initiative can be found here.

OSHA’s press release can be found here.