Biden Administration To Add New Rule To Protect Workers From Extreme Heat

Extreme heat kills tens of workers each year. And the Biden administration is pledging to tackle the problem.

NPR reports:

“The Biden administration is pushing for new worker protections after record-setting temperatures across the country left dozens of workers injured and dead this summer.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that it will prioritize inspections on hot days, target high-risk industries nationally, and, as reported earlier this summer, begin developing a federal rule to protect workers from heat-related illnesses, a move long sought by worker advocates.

President Biden released a joint statement with OSHA, calling the initiative an ‘all-of-government effort to protect workers, children, seniors, and at-risk communities from extreme heat.’

An investigation last month by NPR and Columbia Journalism Investigations found a dramatic rise in preventable worker deaths from high temperatures, and that 384 workers died from environmental heat exposure in the U.S. over the last decade.

The fatalities included workers performing essential services across the country: farm laborers in California and Nebraska, construction workers and trash collectors in Texas, and tree trimmers in North Carolina and Virginia. An analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by NPR and CJI showed the three-year average of worker heat deaths had doubled since the early 1990s.

Workers of color have borne the brunt: Since 2010, for example, Hispanics have accounted for a third of all heat fatalities, yet they represent a fraction — 17% — of the U.S. workforce, NPR and CJI found. Health and safety experts attribute this unequal toll to Hispanics’ overrepresentation in industries vulnerable to dangerous heat, such as construction and agriculture.

OSHA said in the news release that despite ‘widespread underreporting, 43 workers died from heat illness in 2019, and at least 2,410 others suffered serious injuries and illnesses.'”

For the rest of the story, visit NPR here.

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