Padilla Applauds Labor Department’s Historic Federal Workplace Heat Standard Proposal

Proposed Rule Follows Padilla’s Efforts to Establish Federal Standard to Protect Workers From Extreme Heat

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, amid extreme heat waves across California and the nation, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) applauded the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to establish the first-ever federal safety standard to protect workers from the severe risks of excessive heat. The rule, proposed by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), would implement key provisions from Padilla’s Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatalities Prevention Act by putting forward a federal standard to ensure workers and employers can address increasing heat stress risks.

Last summer, Padilla and his colleagues led 112 members of Congress in calling on the Biden Administration to implement an OSHA workplace federal heat standard as quickly as possible.

The proposed OSHA rule would implement work practice standards such as required rest breaks, access to shade and adequate hydration, and acclimatization to high-heat work conditions. It would also require employers to identify potential heat hazards, develop plans to respond to heat illness emergencies, and train employees and supervisors to manage the risks of excessive heat. This rule would impact roughly 36 million workers and sharply reduce heat-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths at work.

“Heat protections are a matter of life and death for the millions of workers across the country doing backbreaking labor amid increasingly extreme temperatures,” said Senator Padilla. “With climate change shattering new heat records every summer, holding employers accountable to provide commonsense heat-stress protections like shade and water breaks has only become more important. I am thrilled to see OSHA act on our calls to put the health and safety of our workers first by proposing a federal heat standard that would prevent millions of heat-related illnesses and save lives.”

Temperatures throughout much of California are set to surpass 110 degrees this week, with excessive heat warnings and advisories taking effect across the state. New daily, monthly, and all-time records for California extreme heat could all be set this week.

The consequences of extreme heat waves are severe, especially in the workplace. Heat-related illnesses can cause heat cramps, organ damage, heat exhaustion, stroke, and even death. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth estimates hot temperatures have caused at least 360,000 workplace injuries in California from 2001 to 2018, or about 20,000 injuries a year. In total, extreme heat exposure caused about 3,900 deaths in California from 2010 to 2019, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.

Senator Padilla has acted urgently to address the threats posed by extreme heat as the climate crisis becomes more severe. In addition to his letter to OSHA to push for a workplace federal heat standard, Padilla joined union members and workers from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Kern, Inyo, and Mono Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO in Forty Acres, California last year to announce his legislation to implement an enforceable federal workplace heat standard. Last year, Padilla also co-led the introduction of the Preventing Health Emergencies and Temperature-related (HEAT) Illness and Deaths Act with his colleagues to address the rising health risks of extreme heat, including through the establishment of a $100 million federal financial assistance program to fund community projects that reduce the health impact of extreme heat events. He previously commended DOL’s announcement to expedite the regulatory process for creating a federal heat protection standard and to roll out other protections related to extreme heat.

Workers can file confidential complaints to Cal/OSHA by calling (833) 579-0927 and by visiting the Heat Illness Prevention resource page.