First Voluntary Standard For Lessening Heat-Related Illnesses and Deaths in Construction

The new standard outlines industry best practices and proven solutions to protect workers on jobsites in extreme heat.

Jean Dimeo, Editorial Director, ConstructioNext, WOC360, IRE360

February 29, 2024

3 Min Read
Bethany Sewald / Alamy Stock Photo

The American Society of Safety Professionals this week published the first national voluntary standard addressing heat stress for workers in construction and demolition.

“This new industry consensus standard is an important development because there is no federal regulation focused on heat stress,” ASSP President Jim Thornton said in a statement. “Employers need expert guidance on how to manage heat-related risks. They must have the tools and resources to identify and help prevent work hazards before an incident occurs.”

ANSI/ASSP A10.50-2024 Heat Stress Management in Construction and Demolition Operations:

  1. Offers guidance on protecting workers.

  2. Explains how to acclimate workers to high heat conditions.

  3. Provides requirements for training employees and supervisors.

The standard contains checklists and flowcharts designed to help companies develop clear and effective heat-stress management programs that bridge the regulatory gap.

“There are tens of thousands of heat-related illnesses each year linked to construction and demolition sites, and workers have died from exposures to excessive heat,” said John Johnson, chair of the ANSI/ASSP A10 standards committee, in a statement. “This new standard outlines industry best practices and proven solutions to protect workers who commonly do strenuous jobs in challenging conditions.”

The A10.50 standard identifies engineering and administrative controls a construction company can implement to ensure that workers get proper rest, water breaks and shade while still meeting project goals. It recommends medical monitoring and using a buddy system to reduce risks and help prevent heat-related illnesses in many work environments.

The impacts of heat stress can range from mild symptoms such as a rash and cramps to severe conditions including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 400 work-related deaths were caused by environmental heat exposure since 2011. The standard includes a detailed emergency response plan if a worker has a severe reaction to excessive heat.

Expert Guidance

The A10.50 subcommittee that wrote the standard consisted of 30 safety and health experts from businesses, trade unions, consulting firms, universities and government agencies. The process took three years.

ASSP says voluntary consensus standards provide the latest expert guidance and fill gaps where federal standards don’t exist. With government regulations being slow to change and often out of date, federal compliance is not sufficient to protect workers.

OSHA has found that almost half of heat-related deaths occur on a worker’s first day on the job and more than 70% of heat-related deaths occur during a worker’s first week. The agency offers guidance on how to protect new workers from heat-related illness, including:

  • Scheduling new workers to work shorter amounts of time working in the heat, separated by breaks, in heat-stress conditions.

  • Giving new workers more frequent rest breaks.

  • Training new workers about heat stress, symptoms of heat-related illness and the importance of rest and water.

  • Monitoring new workers closely for symptoms of heat-related illness.

  • Using a buddy system and not allowing new workers to work alone.

  • Allowing any worker to stop working if they show signs of heat-related illness. Initiate first aid and never leave someone alone who is experiencing symptoms.

These increased precautions should last for one to two weeks. After that, new workers should be acclimatized to the heat and can safely work a normal schedule, OSHA says.

National Heat Awareness Day is May 31 and Extreme Heat Awareness Month is July. Find out more about the standard and these events at

About the Author(s)

Jean Dimeo

Editorial Director, ConstructioNext, WOC360, IRE360, Informa Markets

Jean Dimeo is an award-winning editor, writer and publication manager who has worked in construction publishing for 30 years. Dimeo was managing editor of Construction Dive, our sister publication about commercial construction, and the editor in chief of Builder, EcoHome and Building Products, all about residential building and remodeling. She also worked as an editor for a Spanish-language construction publication and as a building products expert for consumer magazines including Better Homes & Gardens SIPs.

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