On OSHA’s Proposed Heat Standard for Indoor and Outdoor Workers

Washington, D.C.—The National Employment Law Project commends the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s much-anticipated proposed heat standard for indoor and outdoor workers. The result of decades of worker-led advocacy and organizing, the proposed rule would require common-sense and life-saving protections like rest, shade, and water.

This proposed heat standard would be an important starting point to address the growing number of workers impacted by extreme heat. According to research by Public Citizen, as many as 170,000 U.S. workers annually may be affected by workplace heat illness and injury.

“Exposure to heat stress reveals a wealth gap among workers and communities,” said Rebecca Dixon, NELP’s president and CEO. “Not only are lower-wage jobs more likely to include exposure to heat stress, but longstanding systemic biases combine to concentrate Black and immigrant workers into industries and occupations with dangerously high temperatures.

“This proposed rule takes important steps to address this deadly danger facing workers—one manifestation of occupational segregation—and to build a good-jobs economy where workers together can shape the conditions of their jobs.”

In addition to requiring protections from heat, the proposed standard would empower workers with knowledge of heat illness through mandated training so that they can advocate for themselves and their co-workers. The proposed rule would also require employers to establish documented emergency procedures when heat dangers become life threatening.

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