As winter arrives, bakeries can be a pretty nice place to work. That’s not always the case during the summer or in hot climates — and that may become an issue going forward for some operations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in October that it will publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making to confront heat-related illnesses in the workplace.
“It’s an ergonomic issue that has been around for a very long time, but it’s recently becoming more of a focus and gaining attention is the heat and humidity that workers must endure while working in a wholesale bakery,” noted Jon Anderson, president, JRA Occupational Safety Consulting LLC, and consultant to the American Bakers Association.
As it stands, Mr. Anderson said, if or when a rule comes of the rulemaking process, it will apply to employees who work indoors and outdoors in the heat for extended periods of time. Illnesses such as dehydration, fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke in extreme cases can result from prolonged exposure in high-temperature environments.
“Bakeries can become very hot and humid in many locations, and that just makes the work that much more difficult,” Mr. Anderson said. “Working in the bakery is not an easy job. There can be a lot of lifting and moving from one place to the next, and you’re around a lot of heavy equipment.”
He pointed out a few states, including California, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, have already issued their own standards for heat exposure. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen — or away from the ovens.