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10 states say Biden should issue ‘emergency’ worker protections from extreme heat

Attorneys general from 10 states and Washington, D.C., are calling on the Biden administration to issue “emergency” protections for workers from extreme heat this summer.

In a petition on Friday, the Democratic top prosecutors, led by New York’s Letitia James, said the Biden administration should issue a temporary emergency heat standard for this summer to protect workers.

In 2021, the Biden administration said it planned to develop rules aimed at protecting workers from heat exposure. However, actually developing and finalizing regulations could take years.

In light of that, the attorneys general are calling for an interim rule to apply this summer.

“We urge [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] to issue an emergency temporary standard for occupational heat exposure that applies when the heat index reaches 80°F—a temperature associated with increased rates of serious heat-related illnesses—and requires employers to take the necessary and readily implementable steps to prevent harm to their workers, such as providing water, rest breaks, and access to cool or shaded areas,” they wrote.

In addition, they wrote to the White House asking for support.

Currently, there are no national rules protecting workers from heat exposure. Between 1979 and 2018, more than 11,000 Americans have died from heat-related conditions.

Last year was the hottest year on record, and large parts of the U.S. saw intense heat waves, leaving outdoor workers vulnerable.

The White House did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Labor Department, which houses OSHA, did not address The Hill’s questions about whether it would consider an interim standard.

Instead, the spokesperson directed The Hill to information about its ongoing efforts.

The attorneys general who petitioned the administration are from New York, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

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