Washington focuses on heat and human health issues

Over the past several months, Washington policy makers have intensified their focus on the dramatic impact that increasing temperatures are having on our quality of life and physical health. Prolonged heat waves are among the most extreme examples of climate change, creating urban heat islands, killer summers, and dangerous conditions for those who work outside.

The Biden Administration has issued an executive order that requires the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to assess worker safety and temperature issues for outside work. Congress has started to seriously review pieces of legislation that address how to cope societally with these temperatures. Most recently the Senate Energy Committee passed out favorably Senator Ed Markey’s bill S.2510 That requires a multi tiered effort by numerous federal agencies to expand their research on ways to mitigate the impact of heat on human health. While not prescribing specific policies, the Senate Bill nonetheless raises a very high profile for the priority of this topic. Along with Executive and Congressional action, think tanks and nonpartisan policy groups such as the Environment and Energy Study Institute (EESI) are offering briefing sessions for congressional staff members to help them deal with the complexities of this topic. On June 24, EESI sponsored a congressional briefing “Living with Climate Change: Extreme Heat – Policies to Anticipate Threats and Build Preparedness” . Panelists discussed ways that the built environment and natural infrastructure can reduce temperatures, and detailed steps to protect outdoor and warehouse workers. Additionally, they focused on how communities and cities are designing and implementing heat action plans using water based and other nature based solutions.

ERA staff members will continue to monitor this growing focus on the impact of rising temperatures on our industry’s workforce. At the same time, we will work to educate our current and potential customers about the effective use of our products in the ongoing effort to mitigate the impact of climate change.