Biden Announces Plan To Combat Workplace Heat Dangers Due To Extreme Weather
President Biden declared a concerted response to the impacts of excessive heat on Monday. It will emphasize the necessity of multi-agency activities to combat severe heat in the workplace and community.
According to the White House fact sheet, the collaboration of agencies is intended to “improve workplace safety, strengthen local resilience, and alleviate disproportionate heat impacts.”
“While we have all seen the graphic and heartbreaking images of superstorms, wildfires, and floods in recent weeks,” Biden said, “another climate tragedy is lurking just beneath the radar: severe heat.”
According to the National Weather Service, extreme heat has surpassed all other weather-related causes of death in the United States. Record temperatures hit much of the Pacific Northwest from late June to mid-July, killing an estimated 1,260 people.
NEW: As climate change exacerbates what is already the leading weather-related killer, the Biden administration will draft the first-ever federal heat standard to safeguard employees.
As global temperatures rise, Biden indicated that six government agencies will collaborate to develop “initiatives” for businesses to follow that will focus on protecting vulnerable people.
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculture, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be among the agencies involved.
According to the White House, the Department of Labor will focus on occupational heat exposure and how to safeguard outdoor workers, such as agricultural, construction, and delivery workers, as well as indoor workers, such as those in warehouses, factories, and kitchens.
Indoor workers who do not have access to climate-controlled settings will also be protected under the new plan.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor is slated to begin a regulation process next month to draft a workplace heat standard for preventing heat illness in both outdoor and indoor work situations. Heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring will be the emphasis of the rulemaking process.
On days when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, there are also plans for increased enforcement that would entail “heat-related” interventions and workplace inspections.
According to the White House, Biden intends to protect communities from extreme heat by providing “cooling assistance to households; using schools as cooling centers; launching a heat resilience innovation challenge; addressing social vulnerabilities and disproportionate impacts; reducing urban heat through tree cover; and improving local preparedness through data-sharing.”