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Joe Biden for President 2020

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Biden offers assistance as US reels under extreme heat

US President Joe Biden has announced a series of measures to help protect workers from the effects of extreme heat as people across the United States struggle to cope with blazing temperatures. The White House said on Thursday that Washington would step up heat safety violation inspections in key industries, such as construction and agriculture. The Biden administration also said it would put a so-called “Hazard Alert” system in place to make employers aware of what they should be doing to help their workers stay cool, and ensure workers are aware of their rights. Despite the newly announced measures, the US does not have a federal heat standard that requires employers to institute measures to keep workers safe above certain temperatures. Protection for worker such as guaranteed breaks and access to shade and cool water vary by state and are generally sparse. Workers’ rights groups have pushed for the establishment of a federal standard, as the White House noted on Thursday that extreme heat has killed more than 400 workers since 2011 and results in thousands of hospitalisations each year. Outdoor workers with jobs involving physical labour can be more vulnerable, especially when paired with limited protections. But efforts to bolster regulations have faced pushback from powerful business interests in sectors, such as agriculture, who have rejected calls for enhanced rules and enforcement. And some US states have moved in the opposite direction: Republican lawmakers in the state of Texas, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 42 workers died from extreme heat between 2011 and 2021, recently banned municipalities from requiring employers to provide workers with shade and water. “Despite being pretty simple, these rules are very controversial and generate a lot of pushback,” Antonio De Loera, a spokesperson for the United Farmworkers Union (UFW), told Al Jazeera. “These questions can be life-or-death for workers.” UFW and other groups say that even in US states that have set up protections, such as California, enforcement efforts often are not strong enough to guarantee workers rights “Farmworkers will still be told they can’t take a break or that they should drink out of an irrigation hose,” De Loera said. “Even in a state like California with good laws on the books, workers are afraid of speaking up.”

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  • George Kariuki

    42 w

    President Biden is a true climate hero!

    • bonke reinhard

      42 w

      We need to have the same spirit for climate change

      • Mats Nilsson

        42 w

        But USA is still one of the top CO2 emitting countries in the world. They need to speed up the work to cut down, or it will get even worse.

        • Sarah Chabane

          42 w

          @Mats_Nilsson yep, that's very true, you can't just act after you need to prevent extreme heat

        • Annett Michuki..

          42 w


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