Thu, 21 Oct 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: The Biden administration is drafting a plan to protect workers and communities from extreme heat, after a dangerously hot summer is being blamed for wildfires and hurricanes from the Pacific Northwest to Louisiana, along with hundreds of deaths.

The departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and other federal entities, will launch initiatives to protect public health, including a proposed workplace heat standard, as part of the plan announced on Monday.

Heat is a "silent killer" that disproportionately affects the poor, the elderly and minorities, said White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, during an interview.

President Joe Biden is currently working with world leaders to help reverse climate change. On Friday, he promised to reduce the level of methane leaks with the EU.

In the Pacific Northwest, a June heat wave caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency hospitalizations for heat-related issues, while in Louisiana more than one million people, including the residents of New Orleans, lost power after Hurricane Ida struck.

As part of the administration's plan, the Labor Department will launch a program to protect outdoor workers, but others lacking climate-controlled environments also face dangers.

"Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements," Biden said.

A new rule on preventing heat illnesses in all types of work places will be implemented by Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which the White House called a significant step to adopting a federal heat standard.

The administration will also expand its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to address extreme heat, the White House added.

McCarthy urged communities to implement related programs, such as "Adopt A Senior Citizen," while David Hondula, associate professor at Arizona State University's Urban Climate Research Center, stressed that heat-related deaths frequently occur in isolation and are not reported.

Extreme weather events across the country "have blown apart the lives of working families, wiping homes and businesses off the map," Biden claimed.

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