Biden administration to write workplace safety rule tackling heat stress, but ag group urges caution
The Biden administration announced on Monday that it will begin crafting a standard to protect workers from heat as the federal government wrestles with a growing public health threat exacerbated by climate change, but the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has urged caution in the legislation.
The order comes as public health and environmental groups have put pressure on the administration to create enforceable standards for outdoor workers exposed to extreme heat, at a time when the number of high heat days is projected to increase significantly due to climate change, Reuters reports.
Excessive heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses, the administration said.
Essential outdoor jobs in sectors like agriculture, construction and delivery services are the most exposed to extreme heat, and are disproportionately held by people of color, the administration said in a statement.
"Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air-conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without cooling resources, and particularly to disadvantaged communities," Biden said in a statement.
Various federal government departments and agencies are being tapped to help provide cooling assistance to homes and neighborhoods and ensure safe working conditions, Biden said.
Farm workers in California and the Pacific Northwest worked in extreme heat this summer resulting in fatalities, according to advocates.
The AFBF, which represents the agriculture industry, cautioned the Biden administration against enacting "one-size fits all" regulations.
"We urge (OSHA) to recognize individual health needs and regional differences in weather," said Allison Crittenden, director of congressional relations for AFBF, in a statement.