Biden begins to set rules on OSHA heat standard, but it could take 10 years – Salary report
Yesterday, the White House announced that it would begin OSHA’s rule-making process on a federal workplace standard that would require employers to protect workers from extreme heat. The rule-making process, a study of how to implement a rule, and public comment on rule-making will likely take several years and go through various regulatory and congressional processes.
The rule-making comes after record temperatures this summer put several workers at risk.
According to a report released by the National Council for Occupational Health and Safety (National COSH), 41 workers died from heat-related causes between April and August 2020. According to a report released by UCLA, 20,000 workers contracted heat-related illnesses in California last year alone.
The announcement comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) received record complaints this year on heat issues, according to records obtained by HuffPost. The announcement of the regulations also comes after a series workers’ strikes who asked their employers to protect them against the hot weather this summer.
Workplace safety advocates have welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to begin drafting rules on a heat standard.
“When we organize, we win,” Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a statement. “The danger to workers of extreme heat due to climate change has been known for some time. Workers, our unions, workers’ centers, national COSH and many partners and allies have been organizing and advocating for real protections for workers for years.
In a press statement, National COSH called for the rule to include limits on overwork during times of extreme heat, frequent breaks, availability of water, use of air conditioning indoors, l ‘access to shade outside and contingency plans on how to deal with the heat. related diseases.
However, long-time advocates of workplace safety warn that drafting the rules will likely take several years, given various legal and bureaucratic hurdles.
“Unless there are a lot of new resources and streamlining of the regulatory process (and Democrats win the next two elections), I would say 10 years if we’re lucky,” said Jordan Barab, who served as OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary during Obama’s tenure. Administration.
Barab says legislative action is needed to streamline the process, increase OSHA funding, and allow OSHA to pass a regulatory rule in just 42 months.
Still, workplace safety advocates say even the start of the rule-making process would force some companies to start changing their heat behavior.
“It’s a good thing the White House announced it,” said Debbie Berkowitz, who served as OSHA’s chief of staff under Obama. “Because it sends a signal to occupations where workers are exposed to high heat that this standard is coming – and maybe some will start to get ahead and implement basic mitigation measures.” “
Donate to help Payday cover the fight for a heat standard