Legislators and labor leaders gather at Capitol Hill to advocate for heat safety
On July 19, United States legislators, labor leaders, PPE manufacturers, and safety experts met at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., to advocate for heat safety and the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act. The event was hosted by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) and was sponsored by U.S. House of Representatives Member, Judy Chu (D-CA).
The hour-long event included short speeches from Representatives Judy Chu, Alma Adams (D-NC), and Paul Tonko (D-NY), who spoke about the importance and need for a federal heat safety standard for workers across the nation.
“Climate change has greatly increased risks for workers in non-climate-controlled conditions. In fact, June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in the U.S., and July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth,” said Chu. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there’s a greater than 99 percent chance that 2022 will be among the 10 hottest years on record. The numbers are astonishing, and it’s so clear that we have to do more.”
Participants, including House Education and Labor Committee staff members and members of Congress, also attended a heat safety PPE briefing. During the briefing, safety experts from PPE manufacturer Magid Glove & Safety, as well as PIP, Occunomix, and Ergodyne, demonstrated various cooling gear that is available to help workers across the nation battle heat stress.
“Many legislators seemed surprised at the extent of PPE solutions available to reduce heat stress,” said Adrianna Carrera, safety expert and project management specialist with Magid. “I think people are generally aware that workers need rest, water, and shade, but there is a lack of awareness when it comes to other preventative measures, such as cooling PPE.”
“I hope this experience helped educate staff members and make them feel encouraged to pass legislation to protect American workers from heat stress,” said Dr. Maggie Morrissey, director of occupational safety at the Korey Stringer Institute and president of the Heat Safety & Performance Coalition (HSPC). “Workers can’t continue to work in the heat without federal protections. Cooling PPE should be used along with other heat stress prevention strategies– not as a last resort in a heat safety plan.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heat illness sends more than 70,000 people to the emergency room each year in the United States. With no federal legislation, this number has continued to rise over the years.
On March 26, 2021, the Department of Labor announced a new initiative to protect workers from the risk of heat stress. Introduced by Chu, H.R. 2193 or the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish an enforceable federal standard to protect workers. This bill is currently being reviewed in the U.S. House of Representatives. For more information about this bill, click here.
To share feedback with members of Congress about this bill, use this link to find local representatives and contact information.