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Biden’s Heat Protection Rules Challenge Texas’ ‘Death Star’ Law

The Biden administration has proposed new federal rules requiring employers to provide water and rest breaks for workers during extreme heat. This move could counteract a Texas law preventing cities from passing their own workplace-safety rules.

The rules, proposed through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates water and rest breaks for both indoor and outdoor workers when temperatures reach certain levels. According to the San Antonio Current, this would be the first federal mandate focused on preventing risks at working at high temperatures.

“Workers all over the country are passing out, suffering heat stroke and dying from heat exposure from just doing their jobs, and something must be done to protect them,” Douglas L. Parker, assistant secretary of labor, said in a statement. “Today’s proposal is an important next step in the process to receive public input to craft a ‘win-win’ final rule that protects workers while being practical and workable for employers.”

Last year was Texas’ hottest on record, with at least 334 heat-related deaths reported, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Texas cities such as San Antonio and Dallas used to require 10-minute water breaks every four hours for workers, but under HB 2127, also known as the Death Star bill, cities can no longer create their own worker protections. The bill is currently under appeal but it is still effective.

U.S. Representative Greg Casar, whose district includes parts of San Antonio and Austin, highlighted the urgency and importance of these protections.

“For decades, workers have been organizing for federal protections from the extreme heat. Despite opposition from big corporations, these working families are finally winning the protections they deserve,” Casar said. He protested alongside Texas workers with a “thirst strike” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last summer.

“Greg Abbott tried to take rest breaks away from everyday Texans, but now we’re one step closer to securing heat protections for all Americans on the job. Employers can adopt OSHA’s proposed rule and protect their workers today. For those workplaces that don’t, I will work with the Biden Administration to finalize this rule as soon as possible,” Casar saidActivists have warned that thanks to climate change, heat is increasing in Texas, and it’s putting workers’ health at risk. The WHO has warned that heat stress can cause death and exacerbate illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health and asthma.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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