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Biden taking steps to protect workers from extreme heat

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Dive Brief:

  • President Joe Biden on Thursday announced plans to increase protections for workers facing extreme heat, as temperatures across the U.S. soar and large swaths of the country face heat advisories. More than 400 workers have died from environmental heat exposures since 2011. Thousands more are hospitalized annually, making heat the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., the White House said.
  • Biden asked the U.S. Department of Labor to issue its first hazard alert for heat, which will give employers information on how to protect workers and inform workers of their rights under federal law. The DOL also will up its enforcement of heat safety violations by increasing its inspections in industries like construction and agriculture.
  • The federal government also will invest up to $7 million to improve national weather forecasts and $152 million to improve water storage and provide safe drinking water in California, Colorado and Washington, the White House said.

Dive Insight:

The U.S. lacks a federal standard on workplace heat safety, but Biden said OSHA continues to work on a rule.

Advocacy groups, like the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health, have called for a national standard protecting workers from climate change’s effects, including smoke, heat stress and severe weather events, like wildfires— as the country continues to deal with extreme heat and air pollution from wildfires in Canada and the western U.S.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to see extreme temperatures with no signs of the heat abating. In the U.S., nearly 2,400 heat records have been broken in the past month alone, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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