TOSHA does not have a specific regulation regarding temperature in the workplace nor heat stress. However, feasible and acceptable methods can be used to reduce heat stress hazards in workplaces.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Permitting workers to drink water at liberty;
- Establishing provisions for a work/rest regimen so that exposure time to high temperatures and/or the work rate is decreased;
- Developing a heat stress program which incorporates the following:
- A training program informing employees about the effects of heat stress, and how to recognize heat-related illness symptoms and prevent heat-induced illnesses;
- A screening program to identify health conditions aggravated by elevated environmental temperatures;
- An acclimation program for new employees or employees returning to work from absences of three or more days;
- Specific procedures to be followed for heat-related emergency situations;
- Provisions that first aid be administered immediately to employees displaying symptoms of heat-related illness.
Although TOSHA does not have a specific regulation covering heat stress hazards, the "General Duty Clause," of the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Act requires each employer to, "furnish to each of his employees employment a nd a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm." TOSHA has previously used the General Duty Clause to cite employers that have allowed employees to be exposed to potential serious physical harm from excessively hot work environments.
The Act allows employees to file a confidential complaint with TOSHA, which may result in an inspection or investigation. If you are being exposed to a serious hazard in the workplace or if you feel that an unsafe or unhealthful work condition exists, you can file a complaint with TOSHA.
You can reach TOSHA by calling 1-800-249-8510.
TOSHA has posted a copy of the complaint form on its web site for your convenience.