Farriers around the United States often find themselves working in extreme heat and cold. Many have suffered from heat-related illnesses, injuries and even fatalities. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that they are holding various discussions on establishing a new workplace heat standard for small businesses.
Agricultural small businesses and farriers likely will be affected in some ways, as they are often exposed to temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Labor has invited various small business owners, local government entities and other agencies to partake in the workplace heat standard discussion.
As temperatures rise, there are more exposures to workplace hazards. Heat-related illnesses can happen in and outdoors at the workplace; however, most of these illnesses are rarely reported or recognized. These high temperatures can cause illnesses and become a problem for many farriers who work outdoors or within a barn. The ultimate goal of the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to prevent or reduce the number of occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities caused by exposure to hazardous heat.1
The panel holding the discussion consists of various OSHA representatives, the U.S. Small Business Association, and the Office of Management and Budget Regulatory Affairs. The panel hopes that many of the most affected businesses and industries will attend the discussion to give feedback on their current protection of themselves and employees, as well as what they would like to see in the future for their businesses. The businesses of people that representatives think will most be affected by this standard are agricultural, construction, landscaping, manufacturing, waste management, and businesses that take place outdoors or in temperatures that exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.2
The meeting will be held through teleconference to allow various businesses to attend. Similarly to 2021, The U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA intend to enforce a strategic plan and rulemaking for heat injury and illness protection in the workplace. The plan that was enforced in 2021 includes taking action through the development of an enforcement initiative, review of OSHA logs for potential sources of heat-related illnesses, the National Emphasis Program (focusing on OSHA resources), the National Advisory Committee, and the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign.
This plan highlights the importance of thorough workplace interventions and inspections to ensure workers have the proper equipment, attire, water, shade and rest in high-heat conditions. Employers must be vigilant of the current and future temperatures to properly instruct their employees during working and travel throughout the day. Workplaces should adhere to OSHA heat posters, wallet cards, cooling areas and acclimatization.
Inspections of the property, and WBGT (Wet Bulb Globe Temperature) sampling must be done throughout the day. Once the inspections and sampling are done they are then reported to the Regional Heat Coordinator.2 This is especially important when a worker is traveling on a job site, or in extreme heat conditions. The OSHA logs that should be present at all workplaces should include the WBGT temperature calculations, as well as other rules and regulations regarding heat warnings, lengths of time that can be worked in these circumstances, and heat warnings. The national programs, advisory committees and campaigns all work together to consistently provide insight to employers and workers, and prevent potential illnesses. Throughout the 2021 Heat Standard Plan, farrier small business owners were left primarily unaffected by the plan.
Though the workplace for a farrier typically exceeds the 80 degrees Fahrenheit heat limit, many small businesses, and farriers were exempt from most of these rules. Being that the majority of farriers are small business owners, with low numbers of employees, and contractors they weren’t heavily affected in 2021’s plan. If a small business has 10 workers or less they do not have to keep safety records unless requested by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These rules change even more as small business owners are not required to inspect or report WBGT samples unless an employee becomes injured. However, if the small business owner is self-employed, and only hires intermediate family members, or domestic workers, then they are exempt from OSHA rules and regulations entirely. In this case, small business owners are only required to report any incidents or injuries they have at the workplace.
Things may change for farriers and farrier-owned small business owners in the summer of 2023. The 2021 Heat Standard plan remains in effect until the Summer 2023 discussion begins; however, the leniency towards these small business owners may be affected as the Department of Labor is concerned about the increase in heat-related illnesses for agricultural workers. Many farriers may be affected by the length of work and tasks they can do, as well as the additional precautions or steps they must take in high heat conditions.
- United States Department of Labor. (2023 June, 22). Heat, Injury and Illness SBREFA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved June 23rd, 2023, from https://www.osha.gov/heat/sbrefa
- United States Department of Labor. (2021 September, 1). Inspection Guidance for Heat-Related Hazards. Retrieved June 23rd, 2023, from https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2021-09-01