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Biden administration to bolster enforcement of heat safety protections for workers

As America scorches under a prolonged heat wave, the Biden administration is taking steps that it says will protect workers from the extreme heat.

The administration said it will bolster enforcement against employer heat safety violations and issue a “hazard alert” reaffirming worker protections from heat. This will include providing information on what employers can and should do to protect their workers, the White House said in a news release.

Heat exposure can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke — and extreme heat puts workers who have to spend extra time outside at risk. From 2011 to 2021, more than 400 workers have died from heat exposure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, for nearly two years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been working on a rule that would aim to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace, but it has yet to issue a proposal.

The extreme high temperatures facing Americans has drawn renewed attention to this effort, and this week, more than 110 Democrats called on the administration to issue a mandate for shade, breaks and water for workers as quickly as possible. 

In addition to the labor-related steps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will invest up to $7 million to improve the country’s weather forecast to allow communities to better prepare for extreme weather events, including heat waves, the White House said.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department will invest $152 million to bolster resilience to climate change in California, Colorado and Washington. These funds will be used to help the states increase their ability to store water and put down a pipeline that allows them to deliver water to communities facing the worst impacts from drought.

Source: The Hill

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