IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Biden announces actions to help protect workers affected by extreme heat

Millions of people in the U.S. nationwide are under heat alerts in record high temperatures.
Get more newsLiveonNBC News Now

President Joe Biden announced new plans to protect workers and communities from extreme heat Thursday as millions of people in the U.S. broil in record-high temperatures.

"The No. 1 weather-related killer is heat. Six hundred people die annually from its effects — more than from floods, hurricanes and tornadoes in America combined," Biden said in prepared remarks at the White House.

"Even those who deny that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis can’t deny the impact of extreme heat is having on Americans," he said.

Biden said he has directed the Labor Department to increase enforcement of heat-safety violations and inspections in high-risk workplaces, such as construction and agriculture sites. More than 400 work-related deaths have been caused by heat exposure since 2011, and thousands more people are hospitalized every year, the White House said, citing federal statistics.

The Labor Department will also issue a hazard alert to tell employers what they should do to protect workers; help ensure employees are aware of their rights, such as protections against retaliation; and highlight steps the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has to try to ensure worker safety, the White House said. 

"We should be protecting workers from hazardous conditions, and we will," said Biden, who heard virtually during his remarks from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, whose cities that have experienced triple-dight heat.

In addition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is set to invest up to $7 million to improve weather forecasts to allow communities to better prepare for extreme weather, the White House said. The Interior Department is also investing $152 million to expand water storage and improve climate resilience in California, Colorado and Washington.

OSHA continues to develop national standards for heat safety in the workplace.

The administration's latest steps aim to build on measures it has taken to address climate change, Biden said.

“I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of climate change anymore,” Biden said, adding, “I don’t know anybody who honestly believes climate change is not a serious problem.”