Biden orders DOL’s first-ever Hazard Alert for heat

Also, boosting workplace inspections, enforcing fines for California, Colorado, Washington

Biden orders DOL’s first-ever Hazard Alert for heat

In a historic move, President Joe Biden announced July 27, 2023 that he will ask the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue a Hazard Alert for extreme heat — the first of its kind in the nation’s history.

He is meeting today with Kate Gallego, mayor of Phoenix, and Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio, to discuss effects of the heat on their communities and how new measures can be taken. Biden is expected today to announce new measures to protect workers and communities.

The order comes in response to “the effects of extreme heat, which is growing in intensity, frequency, and duration due to the climate crisis” the White House said.

OSHA obligations, inspections

As part of the alert, the DOL will be informing employers of what they should be doing right now to protect workers according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), as well as how to make sure workers are aware of their rights. These rights include protection against employer retaliation.

As further executive measures, the DOL will be carrying out inspections of workplaces in high-risk industries such as construction, road work, firefighting and other outdoor labor, UPI reported.

It was also reported that the White House will be enforcing these new policies and issuing fines for heat safety violations.

In January, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required most employers with 10 or more full-time employees to post an important document in the workplace.

Heat exposure deaths in U.S.

Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in America, with a disproportionate number of these deaths occurring on the job. There have been 436 work-related deaths caused by heat exposure since 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As part of his new measures, Biden is allocating $152 million from his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to be funneled to California, Colorado and Washington, to increase water storage capacity and install pipeline for drinking water delivery, among other resiliency measures to help hardest-hit communities.

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