Padilla Commends Administration Action to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat Hazards
Senator previously urged DOL to protect workers in high-heat environments as climate change gives rise to record-breaking temperatures
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) praised the Department of Labor (DOL)’s announcement today expediting the regulatory process for creating a federal heat protection standard in addition to rolling out other protections related to extreme heat.
Senator Padilla has led efforts in the Senate to protect workers in high-heat environments. In March, Senators Padilla and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, to protect the health and safety of farmworkers facing dangerously high heat conditions year-round. The bill is named for Asunción Valdivia, a California farmworker who died of a heat stroke in 2004 after working in 105 degree heat for 10 straight hours. Last month, the Senators sent a letter to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh demanding DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) take action to establish a federal heat stress standard to protect U.S. workers exposed to excessive heat.
“I’m grateful that the Biden Administration is beginning to implement the bill Senator Brown and I introduced to protect workers from heat-related illnesses and deaths,” said Senator Padilla. “We must address the rising health risks of extreme heat in the workplace – particularly for low-income communities and communities of color who are bearing the brunt of this climate crisis. I’m proud to see the administration follow our call to take action and look forward to working with them to advance these whole-of-government solutions and create a uniform heat standard to provide workers the dignity and protection they deserve.”
Researchers estimate that extreme heat causes around 20,000 workplace injuries every year in California alone. Unsafe work conditions due to extreme heat also cost the state roughly $1 billion in damages. The lowest-paid 20% of workers are more than five times as likely to suffer a heat-related workplace injury than the highest paid 20%. This announcement comes after another summer of record-breaking temperatures with the effects of climate change making extreme heat more frequent and severe.
As the Senators requested in a recent letter to the Department of Labor, the Department announced it will be launching a multi-pronged initiative on occupational heat exposure to protect outdoor workers – including agricultural, construction, and delivery workers – as well as indoor workers – including those in warehouses, factories, and kitchens. Specifically, OSHA is announcing today the issuance of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings. The ANPRM, which will be published next month in the Federal Register, will initiate a comment period allowing for OSHA to gather diverse perspectives and technical expertise on topics including heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring. This is part of a larger, coordinated, interagency effort to respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially workers, children, and seniors.
A full list of actions being announced by the Biden Administration today is available here.