"Big Business Lobbies Against Heat Protections For Workers As US Boils"

"It could take years for the federal regulator OSHA to set new heat rules as excessive temperatures are killing Americans at work".

"Big-business lobbyists, including big agricultural and construction groups, are pushing to water down or stymie efforts at the federal and state levels to implement workplace heat protection standards.

This summer, millions in the US have been exposed to some of the hottest days on record, inciting renewed urgency for federal protections from heat exposure for US workers. The Biden administration has proposed federal heat protections for workers. But those rules face stiff opposition and could take several years to be finalized under current rule-making processes and laws. They could even be scrapped depending on the outcome of 2024’s election.

Business groups and lobbyists have aggressively opposed efforts at state and federal levels to enact heat protection standards for workers, claiming employers already practice what a standard would mandate, expressing concerns about the burden on employers, and claiming the efforts take a “wrong approach”.

Between 2011 to 2021, 436 workers died from heat exposure according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that is most likely an undercount because heat-related deaths are often attributed to other accidents or health conditions.

At present, no federal law protects workers specifically from extreme heat. Farm workers and advocacy groups are also pushing to include heat protections for farm workers in the 2023 farm bill currently being considered by Congress. But with Republicans in control of Congress, such a measure is unlikely to pass."

Michael Sainato reports for the Guardian July 31, 2023.

Source: Guardian, 08/01/2023