The climate crisis which the United States faces continues to threaten the lives of its workers, with heat being one of the nation’s leading weather-related killers at work, claiming 43 lives and causing over 2400 serious injuries and illnesses in 2019. As part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to workplace safety, climate resilience and environmental justice, the US Department of Labor has announced enhanced measures to protect workers in general industry, construction, agriculture, and maritime with their primary goal being to reduce the dangers of high heat exposure and to prevent heat-related illnesses.
To help create immediate action, OSHA is implementing an enforcement initiative for heat-related hazards, developing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat inspections, and working towards developing a workplace heat safety standard. The enforcement initiative will see heat-related interventions and inspections of workplaces that pose a risk to worker health on days that exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with OSHA increasing their efforts on such days.
To support this OSHA will:
OSHA encourages employers to implement safety measures proactively such as taking regular water breaks/rest, working in the shade, measuring workers’ heat exposure, and training employees to correctly identify signs and symptoms of when a worker is suspected of suffering from a heat-related illness.
By recognizing these health issues and the level of urgency that is being placed behind creating change, there is a clear indication of the seriousness of heat as a hazard in the US. To keep up to date with any announcements from the U.S Department of Labor, head over to the news release section of their website.
The White House. (2021, September 20). Statement by President Joe Biden on Mobilizing the Administration to Address Extreme Heat. Retrieved from The Whitehouse: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/20/fact-sheet-biden-administration-mobilizes-to-protect-workers-and-communities-from-extreme-heat/
United States Department of Labor. (2021, September 20). OSHA National News Release. Retrieved from United States Department of Labor: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/09202021