Scorching hot out there, communities across the United States are experiencing record heat. So the White House has taken action, enforcing protections for American workers.
“Heat is an occupational hazard. It is something that could cause a worker to be injured and to even die on the job,” said Acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su.
The Department of Labor issued a hazard alert to make it very clear… that heat can be hazardous and workers should understand how to keep themselves healthy and safe.
“And that employers understand they have obligations to do things to make sure that their workers don’t suffer due to the heat,” Su says.
And the labor secretary added that under Federal Law all workers are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace.
“The ability to stop and cool down, to get in the shade,” she said. “They also get trained on how to recognize the indicia of becoming overheated.”
According to Su, employers need to implement policies so if an employee is working outdoors in heat on a construction site or farm, even indoors in warehouses they have the ability to stop and get a drink of water, since staying hydrated is crucial.
“They should not be required to work among known hazards that could cause injury or death.”
Su said she hopes employers do the right thing and many do… knowing the best investment they can make is in their workers, especially in such a tight labor market. There are also instances where workers have to report a violation.
“We want them to know they can safely and confidentially come to the Department of Labor (OSHA) and say there’s a heat violation in their workplace, they’re being denied shade or water,” Su said. “And we want that to happen before somebody gets hurt, before something tragic happens. And when they do that they should be free from retaliation.”
As the acting labor secretary, it is her job to make sure that workers in every workplace understand that the government is on their side when their rights are being violated.
“Especially with this president, who wants every worker to feel seen, every worker to be heard,” said Su.
The labor secretary said right now we have a historic opportunity.
“To make sure we build that kind of economy… from the bottom up, and the middle out where nobody gets left behind and that starts with keeping workers healthy and safe on the job,” she said.