What OSHA’s New HEATNEP Mandate Means for You

Ryan Spurr

New Programs to Improve Safety

In April 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released directive CPL 03-00-024, a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focused on enhancing and expanding inspections related to outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards. This directive aims to minimize health-related risks to workers—especially those that lead to injuries, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

To put these risks into perspective, environmental heat cases result in 35 fatalities per year and 2700 heat-related incidents causing multiple days away from work. Despite most manufacturing organizations valuing a strong safety culture, heat-related injuries and illnesses continue to impact employees’ wellbeing, workforce productivity, and insurance premiums with costly federal, state, and local violations. Whether your company is an OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) participant, looking to proactively comply, or responding to an abatement plan—there are various reasons to leverage people, processes, and technology to improve safety in the workplace.

Inaction Results in Scrutiny and Violations

OSHA provides violation guidance to all regional, state, and local agencies. These fees can range from $14,502 per violation, $14,502 per day for failure to abate original violations, and up to $145k for willful or repeated violations! Despite the potential for fines, it’s also important to consider the impact of OSHA disruptions to your workplace.

For example, if your business is selected for a planned or unplanned inspection, this will create additional costs for your organization to support on-site efforts, and could potentially lead to violations or abatement actions. And be aware that if an employee submits a complaint, an inspection is even more likely and another smart reason to ensure a safe environment.

Path to Compliance

There are many elements to CPL 03-00-024 compliance, including monitoring, training, awareness, assessing contributing risk factors, and providing appropriate environmental conditions when heat levels rise. While technology cannot support all of these, it’s a great tool to enable workers, safety officers, and management to quickly determine when external or internal temperatures and humidity reach prescribed risk levels.

Modern temperature and humidity sensors have never been easier to acquire, deploy, and integrate into your company’s environment, safety, and health programs. Today’s solutions come complete with sensors that can be installed in minutes and offer simple provisioning, integration with monitoring dashboards, and features like control limits, event triggers, alerting, and incorporation with other communication platforms. Sensors can be used to abate additional OSHA requirements or aid in smart manufacturing initiatives, making them a great value to larger corporate objectives.

Another aspect of compliance includes an employee’s ability to alert management to potential heat illness symptoms, request additional cooling measures, or quickly contact emergency personnel to assist with a specific health incident. Smart buttons are a low-cost technology solution that can be placed throughout your facility or in high-risk areas. These buttons empower employees to quickly alert management or safety officers of a potential situation, and proactively prevent a potential incident that might otherwise result in worker injury or trigger further inspections.

Digital signage and alerting platforms can also be used to communicate with staff, regardless of location or access to technology. On the frontline, digital signage can be a powerful training and alerting tool to educate employees on new OSHA or corporate safety initiatives. In the event of an actual safety incident, data from sensors can be integrated to tailor communications, improve the response, and prevent injury. By adjusting digital signage, alerts, and other messaging, your organization can immediately communicate with employees and provide specific guidance to avoid harm.

Connection Can Help

Manufacturers face numerous challenges everyday. Ensuring OSHA compliance is just another task leaders must incorporate into daily decision-making as they aim to keep workers safe and productive.

If your business has experienced a recent inspection, received a HEATNEP OSHA letter, or is part of a voluntary compliance program, engage Connection’s Manufacturing Practice to learn more about how we can assist with technologies that can complement a specific abatement action plan or your broader safety programs.

Ryan Spurr is the Director of Manufacturing Strategy at Connection with 20+ years of experience in manufacturing, information technology, and portfolio leadership. He leads the Connection Manufacturing Practice, go-to-market strategy, client engagement, and advisory services focusing on operational technology (OT) and information technology that make manufacturers more digitally excellent.