September 27, 2018

Keeping your building cool is a year-round task here in Las Vegas, but it’s necessary to do so in order to ensure the health and safety of your employees. If your building is too hot, you could put them at risk of heat-related illnesses, which can cause serious complications and may even be fatal. You could also hurt your bottom line if you can’t provide your employees with climate in which they can work efficiently. Learn the best practices for mitigating heat risks to create a healthy, productive working environment for all of your employees.

If you’re a building manager, business owner, or human resources professional in Las Vegas experiencing heat-related issues in your organization, schedule an appointment with The Cooling Company. (702) 567-0707

When Is It Too Hot to Work by Law?

OSHA reports that an average of about 30 people die in the U.S. and nearly 3,000 more are hospitalized annually due to work-related heat illnesses. However, there are no federal laws regulating safe specific workplace temperatures. Despite this, business owners must still take appropriate steps to protect employees from heat-related dangers per the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. Employers or landlords that fail to do so may be open to legal liability, despite the lack of specific temperature regulations.

OSHA offers different recommendations for indoor and outdoor workplaces, but there are broad similarities between the two. Employers should create a Heat Illness Prevention Program (HIPP) to monitor sources of heat and the health of employees. Workers should also be given time to acclimate to new temperatures with reduced workloads, taking on 20% increments at a time. They should also be provided with ample rest times and plentiful water to stay hydrated with a worker dedicated to monitoring them for signs of fatigue.

Some indoor work environments, such as foundries or warehouses, may reach high indoor temperatures that are similar to or greater than temperatures workers may face in outdoor environments. They may require similar cooling procedures as outdoor work environments or even more stringent ones if they are near sources of high ambient heat. However, indoor workplaces such as offices will not reach high temperatures in most occasions, and employers face less responsibility when maintaining adequate cooling procedures.

Workplace Temperature Regulations

OSHA is the authority on workplace regulation, and while it does not offer specific regulations for temperatures, it has created some guidelines for employers to follow to mitigate heat dangers.

Nevada OSHA Regulations for Temperature in the Workplace

Like its federal counterpart, Nevada OSHA does not have any regulations for safe temperatures in workplaces. Instead, OSHA encourages organizations to adopt a set of voluntary guidelines for both indoor and outdoor work environments, but these offer great flexibility so long as the General Duty Clause is respected. Given the hot desert environment, it’s especially important for businesses to take precautions when working outside. Sudden power failures can cause temperatures inside offices to quickly climb, which means it’s important to have backup plans should your AC fail.

Are There OSHA Warehouse Temperature Regulations?

Warehouses are known for their fast-paced environment and can reach high ambient temperatures, presenting hazardous conditions to workers if left unchecked. OSHA lists “material handling and distribution warehouses” as indoor workplaces with hot conditions in addition to kilns, boiler rooms, foundries, and others. However, as OSHA does not set specific acceptable temperatures for workplaces, warehouses are also exempt from regulation in this regard. Employers still have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace as per the General Duty Clause.

Related: Is Air Conditioning a Luxury or Necessity for Las Vegas?

Heat Safety Tips for the Workplace

  • Create a HIPP to mitigate potential sources of heat illness.
  • Appoint an employee to monitor workers for signs of heat illness.
  • Identify heat hazards in the workplace and take steps to isolate them.
  • Encourage employees to drink at least 1 liter of water per hour in hot working conditions.
  • Limiting each worker’s exposure to heat by implementing sufficient rest times.
  • Create shaded, cool rest areas for workers away from heat sources.
  • Rotate workers from hot environments or sources of ambient heat to limit stress.
  • Develop programs to help new and old employees acclimate to heat.
  • Adjust work schedules to avoid times of the day that are the hottest.
  • Have workers wear a hat and thin, lightly colored clothing in hot environments.
  • Listen to employee feedback to identify areas of improvement in your HIPP.
  • Review and revise your HIPP as new challenges are identified.

Ideal Office Temperature for Productivity

Every worker has a different ideal working temperature, but OSHA recommends that offices be kept within a range of 68-76℉. While this may not satisfy all of your employees or tenants, it is safe to assume that most will find this temperature range comfortable to work in. As OSHA does not have set temperatures workplaces must stay in, building and business owners have considerable leeway when it comes to temperature selection. They have even more leeway than in other environments since General Duty Clause does not apply if a worker can only complain about discomfort.

If you are an employer, you should work with the property manager of your building to improve the cooling for all of the reasons above. Building owners will want to work on this to avoid losing tenants because their buildings are too hot. Moreover, prioritizing the health of your air conditioning system can help you avoid breakdowns, malfunctions, or any other problems which can cause heat illnesses. By scheduling annual inspections and upgrading equipment when necessary, you can provide a safe working environment while also safeguarding the health of your business.

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