Protecting Workers from Heat Stress in a Warming Climate
Public Citizen, the United Farm Workers Foundation, Farmworker Justice and a diverse national network, launched a campaign in July 2018 to win worker protections from heat stress through national, state, and local advocacy. We are raising awareness around climate change’s impacts on the health and safety of workers, as well as other vulnerable populations, and advancing standards to prevent injuries and deaths from heat stress outdoors and indoors.
Excessive heat exposure can cause heat stroke and even death if not treated properly. It also exacerbates other health problems like asthma and heart disease. The current epidemic of heat stress injuries and deaths will worsen in the coming years, as record-breaking summers are now becoming the norm. We need bold action to stop further climate change while also protecting vulnerable populations from the temperature rise that is already locked in. It’s critical that we enact heat stress protections before climate change puts even more workers in danger.
The solutions to heat stress are common-sense: hydration, shade, and rest breaks. But most employers won’t implement them voluntarily. And despite repeated recommendations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, OSHA has not adopted a heat stress standard. Three states — California, Washington, and Minnesota — and the U.S. military have taken the lead and issued standards or guidances.
There are several initiatives across the country to protect workers from heat exhaustion. We’re connecting those efforts through a national coalition with a common goal: preventing heat stress. Through national and state public education campaigns, we can raise awareness of the growing problem of extreme heat — as well as the need to stop raising temperatures with greenhouse gas pollution. We are building a large, cross-sector coalition comprising labor, public health, environmental justice, environmental, and faith groups to advance this work.
Learn more below. Get Involved!
- Report: Unworkable: Dangerous Heat Puts Florida Workers at Risk (October 2018)
- Write a Letter to the Editor in support of heat stress protections
- Help spread the word about heat stress through our social media toolkit
- View the 2018 petition to OSHA for a heat standard
- See a full list of organizations that joined the 2018 heat petition to OSHA
- View the grassroots petition from 61,000+ individuals to OSHA for a heat standard
- View Public Citizen’s report, “Extreme Heat and Unprotected Workers”
- Learn about clean energy solutions
Public Citizen’s past work on heat exposure
- Comments Supporting a More Protective Heat Stress Rule for All California Workers, September 25, 2014
- Comments on NIOSH’s Latest Criteria for a Recommended Heat Stress Standard and Letter to OSHA Imploring Their Adoption Within a Federal Standard, February 25, 2014
- Statement: With Hundreds of Workers Dying, OSHA’s Denial of Petition for a Heat Stress Standard Is Shortsighted, July 3, 2012
- Statement of Dr. Sammy Almashat: Shame on Obama Administration for Sacrificing Children to Keep Agribusiness Happy, April, 27, 2012
- Statement of Sammy Almashat at The National Press Club Regarding Child Labor on Farms in the U.S., April, 19, 2012
- Comments on Proposed Rule on Agricultural Child-Labor Regulations, December 1, 2011
- Petition for a Heat Standard, September 1, 2011