Story at a glance:
- President Biden is focusing on tackling heat waves.
- Biden has instructed six federal agencies to protect vulnerable populations, specifically involving outdoor workers, children and the elderly.
- A new rule will aim to prevent heat-related illness affecting outdoor and indoor workers.
As heat waves gripped portions of the country this summer, President Biden launched a new government initiative Monday to tackle the crisis.
The extreme heat this summer was not only unprecedented in certain states — fueling other weather events like the Caldor Fire in California and Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey — but it was also deadly, with at least 115 people dying from the heat in Oregon, The Washington Post reported.
As Changing America previously reported, the Pacific Northwest was hit with a major heat wave this summer that meteorologists described as “record-breaking.”
In response to these events, Biden has instructed six federal agencies to protect vulnerable populations, specifically outdoor workers, children and the elderly.
Biden’s sentiment is backed by the White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, who called heat stress a “silent killer,” The Houston Chronicle reported.
“Heat stress is a significant, real threat that has deadly consequences,″ McCarthy said. “Many people don’t recognize that heat stress is a real physical problem until it’s too late for them.”
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is expected to present a new rule on how to prevent heat-related illness affecting outdoor and indoor workers. The rule will likely focus on interventions and workplace inspections once the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, The Chronicle reports.
The White House says this rule is a step in the right direction.
“It’s good to set these kinds of standards for purely economic reasons,” Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University and co-author of the study, told The Washington Post.
OSHA Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor from 2009-2015 Debbie Berkowitz also thinks the announcement will protect the “majority Black, Brown and immigrant workers who are the day laborers doing all the construction projects and who are the farmworkers out there feeding us.”
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