Voz media US Voz.us

The Biden administration unveils new proposals intended to "protect communities from extreme heat"

Among the new rules are "increased access to water, temperature-controlled break rooms and a 15-minute paid break every two hours" for employees working in environments above 90ºF (32ºC).

Joe Biden(Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

The Biden administration announced a package of new proposals that aim to "protect communities from extreme heat." These are aimed at preventing workplace incidents caused by extreme temperatures.

The measure, if approved, would be the first federally established standard that would seek to prevent excessive heat exposure in the workplace. It would also cover about 36 million indoor and outdoor employees (delivery and mail carriers, construction and agricultural industry workers, among others). In a press release, the White House stated:

"The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing a rule to protect workers that, if finalized, would establish the nation's first-ever federal safety standard addressing excessive heat in the workplace."

The White House described the measures as "important steps to increase the resilience of the power system against extreme heat and wildfires, including through more than $14 billion to enhance grid resilience, including the deployment of resilience-enhancing microgrids and energy storage."

Employers may be fined

The proposed rule will apply new rules on establishments when the heat index during a workday meets or exceeds 80ºF:

- 80ºF (27ºC): Increased access to water and temperature-controlled break rooms.

- 90ºF (32ºC): Increased access to water, temperature-controlled break rooms, a paid 15-minute break every two hours, mandatory employee medical observation and well-established hazard alerts for all workers.

Employers who fail to comply could be fined around $16,000 or more depending on the condition of the facility.