Biden proposes first-ever nationwide worker protections from heat

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As the nation sizzles, the Biden administration is proposing the nation’s first-ever standards aimed at protecting workers from extreme heat. 

If finalized, the proposal would mandate that employers provide rest breaks and access to shade and water for workers who face extreme heat risks. 

They would also be required to identify heat hazards and develop heat illness and emergency response plans. 

However, it’s not clear whether the standards will ever actually take effect: they’re unlikely to be finalized by the end of Biden’s term, and a Trump administration is not expected to move them past the finish line. 

Between 2011 and 2021, 436 workers died due to extreme heat exposure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers among the most susceptible to heat-related illnesses work long hours outside, including farmworkers and construction workers.

The Biden administration argues that its proposal would save lives. 

There are currently no federal heat protections for workers, though some states and municipalities have implemented their own requirements. On the other hand, Texas and Florida have barred cities from issuing their own worker heat protections. 

The Biden administration first said it wanted to propose the standards in 2021 and has apparently been working on a proposal since then. 

The Biden administration is also announcing Tuesday that it is putting nearly $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to try to protect communities from natural disasters and hazards including heat and flooding. 

The money will fund 656 projects around the country. 

The announcements come as many parts of the country have seen high temperatures in recent weeks. Currently and in the years ahead, extreme heat is expected to be made worse by climate change.

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