Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Bill introduced to protect workers from heat-related injuries and illnesses

Today, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) along with 21 Democratic colleagues introduced the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R.3668). Named for a farm worker who died from heat stroke after working for 10 hours straight in 105-degree temperatures, the bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an occupational safety and health standard in order to protect workers from heat-related injuries and illnesses.

According to the legislation, OSHA would be required for the first-time ever to set a standard that workers in all high heat environments, outdoor or indoor, be provided with hydration and scheduled paid rest breaks in shaded or climate-controlled spaces, among other provisions.

Employers in this bill would include persons engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees; contractors; subcontractors; temporary service firms; or employee leasing entities. Employees in this bill would include anyone employed by the aforementioned “employers.”

“My bill will, for the first time ever, establish a federal requirement that workers in high heat environments have paid breaks in cool spaces, access to water, and limitations on how long they can be exposed to heat,” said Rep. Chu, “Thanks to legislation I introduced when I was in the State Assembly, California already follows many of these requirements, and we have seen the positive impact on workers’ health and productivity. Extending those protections to all workers should be common sense. Passage of this bill will ensure that all workers benefit from safe conditions whenever they work in excessive heat environments, no matter where they live.”

NALC is currently reviewing the legislation and will continue to monitor the progression of the bill to keep letter carriers aware of any updates.

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