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Where Was This During The Trump Administration? - President Biden Announces Plans For National Workplace Heat Standard

Published Friday, November 19, 2021
by IBEW News
Where Was This During The Trump Administration? - President Biden Announces Plans For National Workplace Heat Standard

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - By the time next Summer rolls around there could be new measures in place to keep Workers safe from heat illness.

In a statement announcing his administration's new efforts, President Joe Biden said: "Communities (with) over (100 million) people - one in three Americans - have been struck by extreme weather events in the last few months alone.  This is a blinking code red for our Nation. And while we have all seen the graphic and heart-wrenching images of super-storms, wildfires and floods - another climate disaster is lurking just below the radar: extreme heat.  My administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone."

As extreme heat grows in frequency and intensity, more and more Workers - including many International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Members, are at risk of heat-related illness and death.  

In fact, according to the National Weather Service, extreme heat is now the leading weather-related killer in the United States.  

And while some employers and a handful of states have implemented common-sense policies - like providing shade, water and breaks, that's not the case for everyone, highlighting the need for a national standard.

Toward that end, the Biden Administration announced in September a multi-agency effort to combat illness and death from extreme heat, including multiple initiatives through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Among those are the early steps toward a first-ever Workplace Heat Standard through the Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

"Throughout the Nation, millions of Workers face serious hazards from high temperatures both outdoors and indoors.  Amid changing climate, the growing frequency and intensity of extreme heat events is increasing the dangers workers face, especially for Workers of Color who disproportionately work in essential jobs in tough conditions," U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said.

"As Secretary of Labor, my priority is to make sure we are taking appropriate action to keep Workers healthy and safe on the job," Walsh said.

In addition to starting the rule-making process for a heat standard, OSHA is also implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards, developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections, and forming a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group to provide a better understanding of the challenges involved and to share best practices.

The new initiative will prioritize heat-related interventions and inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit and applies to indoor and outdoor worksites in general industry, construction, agriculture and maritime where potential heat-related hazards exist.

On those days, OSHA Area Directors will dedicate additional resources to respond to complaints and expand the scope of programmed and unprogrammed inspections to address heat-related hazards.

Additionally, OSHA will expand its campaign to educate and assist employers on prevention methods.

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