Biden administration seeks to protect Americans from extreme heat | Inquirer News
Close  

Biden administration seeks to protect Americans from extreme heat

/ 07:07 AM September 21, 2021
Members of the Ironworkers Local 7 union install steel beams on a high-rise building under construction during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2021.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Members of the Ironworkers Local 7 union install steel beams on a high-rise building under construction during a summer heat wave in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2021. (REUTERS)

WASHINGTON  – U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday ordered his administration to find ways to ensure people are protected from extreme heat, including through work-related rules and other cooling efforts.

The order comes as public health and environmental groups have put pressure on the administration to create enforceable standards for outdoor workers exposed to extreme heat, at a time when the number of high heat days is projected to increase significantly due to climate change.

ADVERTISEMENT

Excessive heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses, the administration said.

Essential outdoor jobs in sectors like agriculture, construction and delivery services are the most exposed to extreme heat, and are disproportionately held by people of color, the administration said in a statement.

FEATURED STORIES

“Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air-conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without

cooling resources, and particularly to disadvantaged communities,” Biden said in a statement.

Various federal government departments and agencies are being tapped to help provide cooling assistance to homes and neighborhoods and ensure safe working conditions, Biden said.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will develop a process to create a workplace heat standard. The department will enforce the standard in part through workplace inspections on days when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).

The administration also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to expand a program that provides home energy assistance to low-income Americans to allow for purchases of air-conditioning units and to establish cooling centers.

The Environmental Protection Agency is coordinating the development of neighborhood cooling centers at public school facilities.

Farm workers in California and the Pacific Northwest worked in extreme heat this summer resulting in fatalities, according to advocates.

ADVERTISEMENT

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which represents the agriculture industry, cautioned the Biden administration against enacting “one-size fits all” regulations.

“We urge (OSHA) to recognize individual health needs and regional differences in weather,” said Allison Crittenden, director of congressional relations for AFBF, in a statement.

Worker advocates worry the announcement signals a prolonged regulatory process, even as workers continue to face deadly heat.

“It could be a really long time before anything substantive is actually in place, enforceable and in the fields,” said Elizabeth Strater, director of strategic campaigns for United Farm Workers labor union. “I really hope we see some of the level of urgency that we feel. Our communities have had too many funerals this year.”

gsg

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Heat, U.S. Biden
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.