House Committee Advances Heat Protection Legislation

House Committee Advances Heat Protection Legislation

Last week, the House Education and Labor Committee advanced H.R.2193, the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, by a 27-19 party-line vote. Republicans voted uniformly against advancement of the legislation.

H.R.2193 would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a standard for preventing heat-related illness and injury on the job. The legislation broadly empowers OSHA to adopt a range of measures to prevent heat illness like requiring employers to provide employees with paid breaks in cool spaces, access to water, and limitations on time exposed to heat. H.R.2193 would require OSHA to issue an interim final rule on the prevention of heat-related illness within one year of enactment and extend the statute of limitations for OSHA to issue a citation for a violation of the new standard from 6 months to 4 years.

The Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS), to which IWLA is a member, sent a letter to the Education and Labor Committee opposing the bill. The letter explained that “heat exposure does not lend itself to a rushed, arbitrarily imposed process.” CWS stated that H.R.2193 would “circumvent the opportunity for the regulated community to provide input and comments,” “boot strap in state plan requirements that are based on one state’s regional, demographic or political considerations,” and force the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to accept OSHA’s interpretation of the legislation, despite OSHRC’s intended purpose of being an independent special issue tribunal.

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