WASHINGTON – Today, the Biden administration launched a coordinated, interagency effort to develop workplace heat standards, provide cooling assistance to households and communities, and respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially workers, children, and seniors. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva praised President Biden’s actions calling it the “first of many necessary steps” to combat the effects of climate change.
Rep. Grijalva and other Members of Congress have long called for the Occupation Safety and Health Administration to adopt standards that prevent occupational exposure to excessive heat in both indoor and outdoor environments. This includes Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Judy Chu’s Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act named for named for Asunción Valdivia, a farmworker who died after picking grapes for a ten-hour shift in 105-degree heat.
“While this decision to implement a federal heat safety standard is the first of many necessary steps to address the impacts of climate change, we must act quickly to pass a permanent standard to protect our family members, friends, neighbors, and workers from extreme heat,” said Rep. Grijalva. “In Arizona and across the country, climate-related disasters and rising temperatures pose serious threats to workers. I applaud the Biden administration for responding to the urgency of this situation. As we move ahead, we must continue to pursue forward-looking federal policies to address the growing climate crisis and build a more resilient and sustainable economy, while protecting our workers as our most valuable resource.”
Until now, there was no federal heat standard to provide high-risk workers such as farmworkers, construction workers, and warehouse workers with protections from dangerous heat conditions. The National Weather Service has confirmed that extreme heat is now the leading weather-related killer in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, excessive environmental heat stress killed 783 U.S. workers and seriously injured 69,374 workers from 1992 through 2016.
A fact sheet on the Biden administration’s initiative to protect workers and communities can be found here.
The letter Rep. Grijalva sent requesting the administration issue an emergency heat OSHA standard can be found here.
A fact sheet on the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act can be found here.