WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Judy Chu (CA-27), and Alma Adams (NC-12) commended the Biden administration for taking another positive step toward protecting indoor and outdoor workers from dangerous heat conditions.
This week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections before workers suffer completely preventable injuries, illnesses or, even worse, fatalities.
“As summer brings rising temperatures to Arizona and other places across the country, this announcement and program will be critical to ensuring the workplace safety and oversight needed to protect our workforce from the heat,” said Rep. Grijalva. “I applaud the Biden administration for introducing the National Emphasis Program and look forward to seeing it in action. So long as climate change remains a threat, I will continue to push for aggressive action including a federal heat standard that will grant the permanent protections needed to protect our workers and limit their exposure to excessive heat.”
“As summer heats up, we cannot ignore the fact that climate change has created new dangers for workers in a wide range of workplaces across the country, from farms to warehouses and delivery trucks. I introduced the country’s first heat stress law in California, and I am thrilled to see the Biden Administration taking action via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s new National Emphasis Program on heat inspections. These efforts will prevent heat injuries and needless deaths in the upcoming summer months.” said Rep. Chu. “But we must continue to push for legislative action in order to federally codify this heat standard, ensuring the rules do not change with each administration. My bill, H.R. 2193 the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatalities Prevention Act would require OSHA to establish an enforceable federal standard to protect workers from extreme heat. It also sets minimum requirements for the standard to mitigate the damage industry interests might do to the rule.”
“The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a workplace safety standard ‘to protect the health of workers exposed to heat and hot environments.’ However, most states, including the State of North Carolina, have not taken action. This is why ensuring the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace is so important, and why I was proud to introduce the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act to create a federal standard to protect workers from extreme heat,” said Rep. Adams, Chairwoman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “I applaud President Biden, Secretary Walsh, and OSHA for introducing a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from extreme heat illness and death before we enter the dangerous summer months.”
As part of the effort to protect workers from the heat, Reps. Grijalva, Chu, Adams and Bobby Scott (VA-03) introduced legislation to ensure the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace. The bill, the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, is named in honor of Asunción Valdivia who died in 2004 after picking grapes for ten hours straight in 105-degree temperatures. Mr. Valdivia fell unconscious and instead of calling an ambulance, his employer told Mr. Valdivia’s son to drive his father home. On his way home, he died of heat stroke at the age of 53. More information on the bill is available here.
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