Labor Groups Demand OSHA Mandate Protections for Hot Weather Workers

With the triple digit heat continuing, activist and labor groups are calling on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide protections for workers who have to spend the entire work day outside, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Adrian Shelley, head of Texas Public Citizen, says there are 'hundreds of thousands' of Texans, from farm workers to construction employees and roofers to highway workers, who are covered in this category.  He says migrant and seasonal farm workers alone total more than 360,000.

"These workers need protection from the extreme heat," he said.

Shelley says working in triple digit temperatures is no different from working near hazardous materials or in factories, and workers in those field enjoy specific protections from the workplace hazards they face.

"We are asking OSHA to provide mandatory break times, hydration, and access to cool spaces," he said.

Shelley says heat is the number one caused of weather related deaths in Texas, with more than 340 people dying from heat related issues each year in the state.  He says many of those casualties are people who have to work outside.

He says many farm workers, for example, are migrant workers and immigrants, many of whom lack protections in general.

And he says the problem is not going away.

"As we see, hotter temperatures, with climate change, this problem will persist and will get worse as it gets warmer."

Several former OSHA managers are part of the effort to get those protections included in OSHA's regulations.


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