Big business lobbying groups, including those representing major agriculture and construction companies, are lobbying hard to make sure American workers are minimally protected from extreme heat, The Guardian Reports. On Monday, more than 50 million Americans were under a heat advisory and Phoenix, Arizona, only hit 108°F (after hitting 110°F for 31 days straight) as the hottest month in the last 120,000 years came to a close. Groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation (a group with a long history of climate science denial), Construction Industry Safety Coalition, and National Demolition Association are fighting against proposed worker heat protections at the federal level, and in state capitals nationwide.
More than 436 workers died from heat exposure between 2011 and 2021, according to BLS data, and federal worker protections take notoriously long to promulgate — a 2016 OSHA rule on silica exposure took 45 years to implement. “It’s not rocket science to protect workers from heat. Many employers do it but many employers don’t. It’s not that expensive,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a top OSHA official during the Obama administration. “But it’s good to have a standard, a standard will really save lives.” (The Guardian; Phoenix: New York Times $; Heat advisories: The Guardian; July heat: AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)