The coronavirus is the single greatest health crisis facing the United States right now, but that does not mean that all the other potential health hazards suddenly went away. And even with people spending more time indoors to avoid exposure to COVID-19, heat exposure remains a serious hazard during the summer. Reflecting this reality, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance to employers on how to protect their employees from heat exposure while also keeping them safe from COVID.
In recent guidance issued by OSHA, the agency discusses some of the most common sources of heat exposure during the summer. Kitchens, bakeries, and laundromats often deal with a great deal of heat, for example, as does anyone who works near a boiler or furnace, or in the vicinity of a mill or foundry. Warehouses also often become extremely hot during the summer, due to a lack of sufficient air conditioning or ventilation. Anyone who works outside, such as people in agriculture, construction, landscaping, or any kind of mail or package delivery, also need to be conscious of heat exposure.
To deal with these issues, employers should ensure their employees have ample opportunity to take a break from the heat. This means ensuring they have ready access to water, shade, and rest as necessary, and that enclosed areas are properly ventilated. OSHA also recommends having a plan to prevent heat illness that may occur as a result of heat exposure, and asks employers to train their employees on dealing with heat illness, including how to recognize it in themselves or others. While employees should still typically comply with requirements on personal protective equipment and social distancing, they should also be allowed breaks away from other people if breathing starts to become difficult for them. Heat exposure can be extremely dangerous if handled improperly, and employers should take precautions to protect their employees while still limiting the spread of COVID-19.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 39 years of experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.