U.S. restaurant kitchens are about to become a little safer.
The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) will begin drafting additional safety standards for restaurant kitchens in October as part of a new federal government initiative to protect workers from dangerous heat.
In the meantime, OSHA will place more importance on inspecting potentially high-temperature workplaces, with commercial kitchens cited as one such environment.
OSHA’s vigilance will centre around working with employers to protect workers more effectively from heatstroke or other heat-related issues, rather than punishments. The agency will consult with employers to encourage best practices like having cold water readily available and providing ample breaks.
In October, OSHA will begin taking input and feedback from the public on potential regulations. The final rules may not be presented to restaurateurs and other employers for months.
“As with other weather events, extreme heat is gaining in frequency and ferocity due to climate change, threatening communities across the country,” President Biden said in announcing the initiative. “In fact, the National Weather Service has confirmed that extreme heat is now the leading weather-related killer in America.”
He added that millions of American workers are at risk when temperatures climb, especially given a lack of adequate air conditioning in some environments.