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Groups want OSHA to issue heat standard for workers

A coalition of 130 worker safety groups is petitioning the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create a federal standard to protect workers from extreme heat. California, Minnesota and Washington have already implemented such standards.

The petition comes in response to a new Public Citizen report that predicts U.S. temperatures will continue to rise through the end of the 21st century, endangering both indoor and outdoor workers. In fact, the report said that temperatures in northern cities like Boston and St. Paul could be as hot as those in Miami and Mesquite, Texas, by 2100. It also points out that 17 of the 18 hottest years ever recorded have happened since 2001.

Using statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the petitioners estimated that there are more than 200,000 U.S. workers who are currently not protected by heat stress standards. Meanwhile, the Public Citizen report found that 783 American workers were killed by excessive heat between 1992 and 2016. More than 69,000 workers suffered serious heat-related injuries during the same period. The report also said that 374,000 agriculture workers and 1.8 million construction workers performed their jobs in extreme heat during the first week of July 2018. The petitioners want the federal government to begin requiring mandatory rest breaks for workers during periods of extreme heat. They also want workers to be provided with access to shaded and/or air-conditioned areas, personal protective equipment that cools them down and ample hydration.

People who suffer job-related illnesses such as heatstroke are generally eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits while they recover. An attorney could review a worker's case and help to ensure that the required claim contains all required information and that it is filed on a timely basis.

Source: Safety BLR, "Groups again ask OSHA for heat stress standard", July 23, 2018

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