Padilla Urges OSHA to Implement Federal Heat Protections for Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, amidst record-breaking temperatures across the country, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), along with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Greg Casar (TX-35), Judy Chu (CA-28), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), led one-hundred and twelve members of Congress in calling on the Biden Administration to implement an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace federal heat standard as quickly as possible. The letter urges OSHA to model the standard after the provisions in the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatalities Prevention Act, legislation previously introduced by Padilla, Brown, and Cortez Masto to establish an enforceable federal standard to ensure workers and employers can recognize and respond to the signs of heat stress. 

“As millions of Americans face record-breaking and life-threatening extreme heat conditions, the health and safety of our workers must come first. We urgently need an enforceable federal heat standard that holds employers accountable and protects workers,” said Senator Padilla. “I urge the Administration to act quickly to protect our workers as temperatures across the country soar.” 

The lawmakers urge Acting U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Julie Su and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Douglas L. Parker to establish an enforceable federal standard to ensure workers and employers can recognize and respond to the signs of heat stress.

The standard, modeled off of Padilla’s Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatalities Prevention Act, should require employers to provide the following:

adequate hydration;

rest breaks;

areas for rest breaks that are shaded (in the case of outdoor work) or air-conditioned (in the case of indoor work);

medical services and training to address signs and symptoms of heat-related illness; and

a plan for acclimatization to high-heat work conditions.

The letter also urges OSHA to incorporate the best practices from states who have taken a proactive approach to protecting works from extreme heat, including California.

“This year is expected to be the hottest on record, demonstrated by the hottest days on record on Earth in the first week of July, following the hottest ever month of June. Heat waves are associated with increases in death rates, driven not only by deaths directly caused by extreme heat but also by increases in deaths from heart attacks, respiratory illnesses, and cerebrovascular diseases. Heat waves are also associated with increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders. As you know, many workers whose jobs require prolonged exposure to extreme heat are not afforded paid time off or sick days. Thus, any health complications caused by heat exposure can lead to missed work, missed wages, and financial instability for families,” wrote the lawmakers.

The letter is signed by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Bernard Sanders (VT), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Cory A. Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Mazie K. Hirono (HI), Ben Ray Luján (NM), Edward J. Markey (MA), Robert Menendez (NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (OR), Jack Reed (RI), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ron Wyden (OR), and Representatives Greg Casar (TX-35), Judy Chu (CA-28), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, Colin Z. Allred (TX-32), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-06), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Shontel M. Brown (OH-11), Cori Bush (MO-01), Yadira Caraveo, M.D. (CO-08), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Troy Carter (LA-02), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Chris Deluzio (PA-17), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Valerie P. Foushee (NC-04), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-08), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Mike Levin (CA-49), Ted W. Lieu (CA-36), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Seth Magaziner (RI-02), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), Robert J. Menendez (NJ-08), Grace Meng (NY-06), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Jerry Nadler (NY-12), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47), Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-25), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-11), Patrick Ryan (NY-18), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Brad Sherman (CA-32), Adam Smith (WA-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Haley M. Stevens (MI-11), Mark Takano (CA-39), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Dina Titus (NV-01), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Lori Trahan (MA-03), David J. Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Marc A. Veasey (TX-33), Nydia Velásquez (NY-07), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24). 

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