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Kamala Harris announces OSHA program to protect workers from heat-related injuries

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Kamala Harris announces OSHA program to protect workers from heat-related injuries
During a visit to Philadelphia Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a new program by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to begin nationwide workplace heat inspections in more than 70 high-risk industries for the first time. Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/UPI | License Photo

April 12 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris announced a new program by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers from heat-related injuries.

Speaking at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 in Philadelphia, Harris said OSHA was initiating the National Emphasis Program on heat, under which the agency will begin nationwide workplace heat inspections in more than 70 high-risk industries for the first time.

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As part of the program, OSHA said it will proactively initiate inspections in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service issues a heat warning or advisory for a local area. Also on days when the heat index is 80 degrees or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance specialists will engage in outreach and technical assistance to keep workers safe.

"We're going to monitor to make sure that the workers aren't out there without us making sure that they are receiving all of the protections that they are entitled to receive," Harris said. "And we're not going to stop there."

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In further remarks before the sheet metal workers union, Harris said that she and President Joe Biden strive "to lead the most pro-union administration in America's history," citing their efforts to protect and expand workers' rights to organize.

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"Unions create stronger communities. They bring people together. And they, of course, protect workers from things like harassment and discrimination. And they give workers a voice," she said. "Put simply, unions move our nation forward. And the American people know it."

Harris cited her work on the White House Labor Task Force, which she chairs with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, after it drafted a report in February including recommendations to make it easier for laborers to organize and bargain collectively, and called on about a dozen agencies to prioritize federal grants to create union jobs.

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"This administration is not afraid to say the word union," said Walsh. "It's not afraid to say the words collective bargaining and talk about the importance of collective bargaining, about workers' rights, about health and safety protections, those things that you fight for, that you work for every single day."

Harris also touted the provisions for unions included in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law.

"It will put thousands of union workers, carpenters, and pipefitters, and plumbers and, yes, sheet metal workers, to work across the country," she said.

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