New initiatives proposed to protect workers from heat hazards

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With heat waves spreading across the United States, President Joe Biden announced new steps to protect workers from extreme heat. The actions come as nearly 40% of the U.S. population faces heat advisories.

“He asked the Department of Labor to issue a Heat Hazard Alert; it’s the first ever heat hazard alert to be issued by the Department of Labor and it reminds employers in every state, every state across America, including Louisiana, their obligations under federal law to protect workers from heat stress,” said White House Assistant Press Secretary Abdullah Hassan.

“And those states where they do not, I’m going to be calling them out where they refuse to protect these workers in this awful heat,” said Biden.

The alert also provides information to employees about their rights and what steps they can take if they think their rights are not being protected.

“OSHA is going to push is is pushing it out to employers that it has as a as a bulletin to employers across the country, and then they have to also make that available to their employees at their workplace.” said Hassan,

“A lot of people do get concerned when it comes to heat exhaustion and heat stress,” said Patrick Siener of Impetus Construction. “We do definitely take that into account when our guys are out here working nonstop.” Siener continued “We do end up taking a break, typically once every 45 minutes; we have our guys sit down, take a break, get a little breather, drink a cold water just to revamp before they get back to work.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be ramping up their inspections.

“The acting Secretary of Labor will work with her team to intensify enforcement, increasing inspections in high risk industries like construction and agriculture,” said Biden.

As part of the initiative, the department will issue a hazard alert notifying employers and employees about ways to stay protected from extreme heat, which has killed 436 workers since 2011, according to federal statistics.

“This is again a reminder to employers that they do indeed have obligations under federal law that they must meet, and if they are not, then the Department of Labor will, will take action,” said Hassan.

More than 100 members of Congress have called on the Administration to implement the new heat standard for outdoor workers as quickly as possible