Biden Administration pushes for climate-related worker protections

The Biden administration is pushing for new worker protections after record temperatures killed or hospitalized many workers this summer.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration recently announced that more attention will be given to prioritizing hot-day inspections as they target high-risk industries across the country, such as roofing and landscaping.

“When I first entered the industry years ago, safety was a bad word,” said Suzie Boyd, vice president of a Colorado roofing company. “In our industry, you can have a lot of friction with OSHA, and a lot of friction about restrictions because it slows down the work and sometimes you’re not that profitable with the work, but what I’ve seen over the years and what I’ve got with us Our own company experience that we have reduced the number of really terrible accidents and that is good.”

A recent study by NPR and Columbia Journalism Investigations found that extreme heat has killed 384 workers in the past decade, and looking at the three-year averages, worker deaths have doubled since 1990.

In addition, data shows that those deaths disproportionately affect communities of color. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Hispanics make up just 17% of the U.S. workforce, but as of 2011, account for one-third of all heat deaths.

The government’s new push to protect workers includes developing a federal rule protecting workers, something proponents have long sought.

“Labour is our number one issue, so keeping them safe is all the more important,” said John McMahon, CEO of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. “You know, the fact that OSHA is doing this, we welcome it as long as it’s practical.”

According to OSHA, landscape services have the third highest number of serious injury reports since 2015.

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