International news

USA: New rules plan for work heat dangers 

The Biden administration is to introduce the USA’s first ever labour standard aimed at protecting workers from extreme heat, as part of a growing recognition of the dangers posed by warming temperatures caused by climate change.

The federal safety regulator, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will draft its first rule governing heat exposure designed to protect those who work outdoors in agricultural, construction and delivery services as well as workers in warehouses, factories, and kitchens. “Over the past few weeks, I have travelled across the country to see first hand the devastating human and economic toll of extreme weather exacerbated by climate change,” President Biden said in a statement. “Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air-conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without cooling resources, and particularly to disadvantaged communities. My administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone.”

The administration said it would form an interagency Heat Illness Prevention Work Group to provide a better understanding of the challenges and best ways to protect workers from heat injuries. OSHA will prioritise heat-related interventions and work inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), the administration said. OSHA is already working to complete a programme before next summer that will target industries at higher risk of heat injuries, and to focus more resources on inspections. 
Read more: 
Statement by President Biden and Factsheet: Biden Administration Mobilizes to Protect Workers and Communities from Extreme Heat 20 September 2021. OSHA news release and Heat illness prevention campaignNational COSH news releaseNew York Times. Source: Risks 1016 Read more on Heat and Climate Change on the OHS Reps site. 

ILO adopts COP on safety and health in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries 

Experts from governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations have adopted a code of practice on safety and health in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear – the first for one of the world’s oldest manufacturing sectors.

Based on international labour standards and other sectoral guidelines, the code provides comprehensive and practical advice on how to eliminate, reduce and control all major hazards and risks. This includes chemical substances, ergonomic and physical hazards, tools, machines and equipment, as well as building and fire safety.

More than 60 million workers around the globe will benefit from the new code, which will be of particular importance to developing countries and emerging economies.

Jukka Takala, chair of the experts' meeting, highlighted the importance of the new code, stating:  “Having spent the past 50 years regulating, enforcing and, in particular, promoting occupational safety and health, I can personally attest to the fact that the adoption of this ILO Code of Practice is a milestone in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries.”

“We want to ensure that Rana Plaza will never happen again,” said Kamrul Anam, worker vice-chair, referring to the 2013 Bangladesh garment factory building collapse, in which more than 1,000 people were killed. “If everyone commits to translating the provisions in this code into action, we can ensure that no worker – in Bangladesh or any other country – will ever have to risk their life in a garment factory again.” Read more: ILO news release  

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