Biden Administration Initiates plan to address disproportionate heat impacts
President Biden is launching a coordinated, interagency effort to respond to extreme heat.
It threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially workers, children, and seniors.
Heat is the nation’s leading weather-related killer.
It is above climate-related disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, and floods produce dramatic images of devastation,
Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces.
Essential jobs with high exposure levels are disproportionately held by Black and Brown workers.
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculture; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are announcing a set of actions that will reduce heat-related illness, protect public health, and support the economy:
- Launching a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard: which will be published next month in the Federal Register, the process will initiate a comment period allowing for OSHA to gather diverse perspectives and technical expertise on topics including heat stress thresholds, heat acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring.
- Implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards: On days when the heat index exceeds 80°F, OSHA Area Directors will dedicate additional resources to respond to heat-related complaints, expand the scope of programmed and unprogrammed inspections to address hazards, and educate and assist employers on heat illness prevention.
- Developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections: OSHA will formalize a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on heat hazard cases. It will target high-risk industries and focus OSHA resources and staff time on heat inspections. OSHA will especially build on the existing Regional Emphasis Program for Heat Illnesses in Region VI — covering Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Forming a heat work group to engage stakeholders and inform ongoing efforts: OSHA is forming a Heat Illness Prevention Work Group to provide better understanding of challenges and best practices in protecting workers from heat hazards. This group will include three members of the full NACOSH—a public representative, labor representative, and management representative—as well as new members from a range of sectors and industries. The work group will work periodically to provide diverse perspectives on topics including identification, monitoring, and response to workplace heat hazards; heat emergency response plans; and worker training and engagement.
Heat also poses higher risks in urban centers and to children, seniors, economically disadvantaged groups, and those with underlying health conditions.
The initiative analyses the heat impacts on these socially vulnerable groups, and suggests solutions.
Read more here.