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Occupational Requirements Survey

Environmental Conditions Data Elements

This page provides an overview and basic descriptions of the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) environmental conditions elements. These requirements describe surroundings or conditions experienced by workers as they perform critical tasks in support of critical job functions.

The incidence of personal protective equipment (PPE) is identified for occupations that have exposure to hazardous contaminants; moving mechanical parts; high, exposed places; and loud noises. The duration of exposure workers have to these elements will be identified if exposure is not completely mitigated by PPE. These definitions correspond to the 2018 reference year estimates.

For more information about select Environmental Conditions and how they are calculated, please visit our factsheets page and our Handbook of Methods.


Job requires work outdoors with workers unprotected and exposed to the elements.  This does not include the commute to/from work.

Man trimming shrubs outdoors Delivery driver dropping off a package

Extreme Cold

Exposure to non-weather related temperatures that are:

40 degrees or colder if the exposure is 2/3 or more of the work day

32 degrees or colder if the exposure is for less than 2/3 of the work day

Worker in icy freezer Exposure to extreme cold example

Extreme Heat

Exposure to non-weather related temperatures that exceed:

85 degrees in a humid atmosphere

90 degrees in a dry atmosphere

Person wearing heat-resistant clothing while standing near burning flames Chef cooking with fire


Any non-weather related contact with water or other liquids.

Person pressure washing a patio Person manually washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen People washing a car


Non-weather related exposure to conditions where the air contains a high amount of water or water vapor and the atmosphere is oppressive.

Worker inspecting plants in greenhouse

Heavy Vibration

Exposure to a shaking object or surface that causes a strain on the body or extremities.

Heavy vibration example


Heavy vibration example


Hazardous Contaminants

Exposure to a substance that negatively affects the respiratory system, eyes, skin or other living tissue via inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

Exposure to hazardous contaminants


Worker painting a building Worker spraying chemicals on crops

Proximity to Moving Mechanical Parts

Operation of or proximity to moving materials, mechanical parts, settings, or any moving objects (most commonly moving machinery or equipment) that could cause bodily harm.

Man sawing lumber in a woodshop Moving mechanical parts example

High, Exposed Places

Exposure to possible bodily injury from falling.

Construction worker exposed to heights Worker on satellite tower

Noise Intensity Level

The noise intensity level to which the worker is exposed in the job:

Quiet, Moderate, Loud and Very Loud (Pictured clockwise)

Sign posted inside a library asking patrons to turn off cell phones People dining at a cafe Construction workers using jackhammers Fans cheering while at a stadium