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Gap in safety rules for workers in extreme heat

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2019 | Workplace Safety |

Many people in Minnesota work in jobs that require them to be outside for extended periods of time. During the summer months, that means these workers endure long hours of exposure to the sun and high temperatures. Construction workers and farm employees are just two examples of groups that fall into this category. These people are at risk for experiencing heat-related illnesses due to the exposure at work.

Minnesotans are fortunate in that theirs is one of only three states with laws in place related to protecting workers who must be outside in high heat. The other two states are Washington and California. However, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation that would enact laws to protect workers who experience heat and high temperatures at the federal level.

As reported by, enabling these employees to have access to training that educates them about the effects of heat and the importance of hydration are some elements of the bill. It is not clear if the bill would require employers to provide the training or to ensure that all employees complete the training or to simply make it available to them. Another provision of the proposed law is that employers should pay employees for break times to drink water. This must take place in cool places.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have any identified standards now although it has some recommendations in place that include guidance on how much fluid employees should consume and at what intervals.

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