- The Washington Times
Monday, September 20, 2021

The Biden administration announced Monday several initiatives aimed at protecting workers across multiple industries from extreme heat.

The initiatives are aimed at protecting outdoor workers, including agriculture, construction and delivery workers. However, people working indoors at warehouses and factories without climate control are also at risk, the White House said.

Under the plan, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will increase enforcements and workplace inspections on days that exceed 80 degrees. The White House said the OSHA effort will be a step towards a federal heat standard in U.S. workplaces.

In addition, the administration will also expand its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to add programs that address extreme heat. The program, which provides heat to low-income families in the winter and air conditioning to those families in the summer, will increase its cooling assistance initiatives.

Officials from the program will also conduct outreach to ensure at-risk families are not overwhelmed by the heat.

The administration will also expand the use of schools and other public buildings as cooling centers.

Other agencies involved include the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department’s Forest Service, which will expand “greening” projects to reduce extreme temperatures and heat exposure.

“Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without cooling resources, and particularly [to] disadvantaged communities,” President Biden said in a statement. “My administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone.”

Extreme heat has plagued several regions of the country this summer. A June heat wave in the Pacific Northwest was blamed for hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses. At least 12 of the 28 deaths linked to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana were caused by heat because the storm left more than a million people without power for air conditioning, the state’s department of health said.

Mr. Biden has blamed the extreme heat on climate change, which is among his administration’s top priorities.

“Communities that over 100 million people — one in three Americans — call home have been struck by extreme weather events in the last few months alone. This is a blinking code red for our nation,” he said in the statement.

The announcement comes one day before Mr. Biden is set to address the U.N. General Assembly and urge other nations to take stronger action against climate change.

On Friday, Mr. Biden announced a pledge with the European Union to reduce methane gas.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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