The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a rule to protect dozens of workers who die and thousands more who become ill while working in hot or humid conditions.

The Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Department released a proposed rule to protect millions of workers from the significant health risks of extreme heat.

If finalized, OSHA says the rule would help protect approximately 36 million workers in indoor and outdoor work settings and substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace.

According to OSHA, heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Excessive workplace heat can lead to heat stroke and even death. While heat hazards impact workers in many industries, workers of color have a higher likelihood of working in jobs with hazardous heat exposure.

The proposed rule would require employers to develop an injury and illness prevention plan to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat.

Among other things, the plan would require employers to evaluate heat risks and - when heat increases risks to workers - implement requirements for drinking water, rest breaks, and control of indoor heat. It would also require a plan to protect new or returning workers unaccustomed to working in high-heat conditions.

Employers would also be required to provide training, have procedures to respond if a worker is experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness, and take immediate action to help a worker experiencing signs and symptoms of a heat emergency.

OSHA IS encouraging the public to submit written comments on the rule once it is published in the Federal Register. The agency also anticipates a public hearing after the close of the written comment period. More information will be available on submitting comments when the rule is published.