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Public Citizen, Labor Groups Seek OSHA Heat Standard

Public Citizen and 111 other safety and labor groups recently called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a federal standard for protecting workers from heat stress, which they say is aggravated by global warming.

Whether or not OSHA chooses to respond to this call by proposing a standard some time in the future, it still oblgates employers to develop programs that adhere to OSHA-recommended practices.

"OSHA has an obligation to prevent future heat-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities by issuing a heat stress standard for outdoor and indoor workers," the organizations said in a late April letter to Alexander Acosta, secretary of U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor and chief of OSHA.

More than 815 U.S. workers were killed and 70,000 seriously injured by heat stress between 1992 and 2017, the advocates note, citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is likely an underestimate, they added, asserting that many injuries and illnesses are under reported in the U.S., especially in the sectors employing vulnerable and often undocumented workers.

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