U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: Protecting workers from extreme heat

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 7, 2022

Too many Americans still work in dangerous conditions, putting their health and safety on the line every day to provide for their families.

One frequent cause of workplace illness, injury, and even death, is extreme heat. We’ve seen all too clearly the past few weeks how many communities can face extreme heat waves. Yet there is no national standard in place to protect workers from dangerous heat on the job.

That is why I introduced the Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act to have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration create a national, enforceable standard to protect workers from heat exposure.

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Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related workplace hazards. More than 70,000 workers have been seriously injured and at least 815 workers have died because of heat exposure on the job over the last 30 years. Farmworkers and construction workers suffer the highest incidence of heat illness.

You don’t have to look any further than the heatwaves sweeping the world right now to see how this hazard is only going to get worse because of climate change. And while heat stress is often associated with outdoor jobs, indoor workers in factories, warehouses, commercial kitchens and other workplaces also face dangerously high heat conditions all year long.

Our bill would direct OSHA to create a standard that includes protections like access to water, limitations on time exposed to heat, paid breaks in cool spaces and emergency response for workers with heat-related illness.

All workers should be safe on the job. That should a pretty basic understanding in the United States of America in the year 2022. There is not much dignity in a job where you fear for your health or your life.

No worker should have to endure life-threatening heat to provide for their family. This bill would be an important step to protect Ohio workers on the job and to ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs safely.

Sherrod Brown is a Democrat and the senior U.S. senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 212-224-2315.