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Lawmakers call for federal heat protections in workplaces

Lawmakers want OSHA to create federal protections for workers who may encounter hot conditions, whether indoors or out.
Lawmakers call for federal heat protections in workplaces
Posted at 7:38 PM, Jul 25, 2023

A group of 112 Congressional Democrats wrote a letter to the Biden Administration this week, asking for new safety regulations for heat in workplaces as a deadly heat wave continues to bake the U.S.

"We write to you today to encourage the fastest possible implementation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace heat standard to ensure that millions of people can go to work with greater confidence that they will return to their families alive and uninjured," the letter read.

Lawmakers want to see rules for outdoor and indoor workspaces, based on the existing worker protections in states like California and Minnesota, which give workers leeway to decide when they need a break in the shade, or prohibit work indoors if the indoor heat index is too high.

The new federal standard should include specifics, lawmakers say, covering hydration, timing for rest breaks, shaded or air-conditioned areas to take breaks in, training for heat-related first aid and acclimatization plans, so workers can get used to potential new work conditions.

SEE MORE: Monday was officially the hottest summer day ever

The new proposal comes as a persistent heat wave topples records across the U.S., subjecting residents to unprecedented stretches of triple-digit high temperatures, unrelenting heat overnight and dangerous outdoor conditions.

Healthcare workers in Arizona say the frequency and severity of heat injuries, particularly contact burns from hot pavement, are unusually elevated this year.

The White House announced in July new initiatives to improve the national response to extreme heat, including new NOAA programs to improve resilience to extremes and a national heat strategy that focuses on equitable response.

SEE MORE: How much heat is too much for the human body?

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