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Biden Administration’s Rule on Excessive Heat in the Workplace Will Save Lives

Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. Brutal heat waves and record-breaking summers are becoming the norm, and there’s an epidemic of heat-related injuries and deaths that will only worsen in the coming years as our climate continues to change. Thousands of Communications Workers of America members work in environments, both inside and outside, that may involve potentially hazardous exposure to hot temperatures.

The new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule on excessive heat in the workplace that President Biden announced today will save lives. The solutions to heat-related injuries are common-sense: hydration, shade, and rest breaks. But most employers won't implement them voluntarily and Republican governors, including Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas, have blocked local governments from implementing these protections.

The consequences are tragic. Last summer, Gabriel Infante died on the job while working for a contractor digging a trench to move internet fiber in San Antonio. He became confused and dizzy in the high humidity under the hot summer sun. His co-workers tried to help him by cooling him down with water, but his supervisor thought he was on drugs and wanted to call the police. He died at the hospital from a severe heatstroke.

In addition to the new OSHA rule, President Biden announced nearly $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) projects to help communities protect against natural disasters and hazards.

CWA has been raising concerns about the health and safety risks of heat exposure for decades. Thanks to President Biden and his administration, action is finally being taken to protect workers from this hazard and to strengthen the ability of our communities to respond to extreme heat, storms, flooding and other natural disasters.



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