ICYMI: Cortez Masto Calls for Worker Protections from Extreme Heat with Southern Nevada Union Members
In Case You Missed It, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) is leading efforts to protect workers during extreme heat conditions. Last week she joined Executive Secretary-Treasurer Vince Saavedra of Southern Nevada Building Trades Union (SNBTU) and union members at a local construction site to discuss her legislation to ensure the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace.
There were over 344 reported deaths nationwide caused by heat exposure between 2011-2019, according to OSHA. Last April, the agency launched a program focused on raising awareness about heat-related hazards.
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said she wants to go beyond that and has introduced legislation to give OSHA the authority to set national safety standards. At a construction site in North Las Vegas, welders, electricians and construction workers will work in temperatures ranging between 100 and 108 this week.
“My goal at a federal level is setting that federal standard at a minimum level so states can incorporate what they need to do in their state to protect their workers. Again, its about worker safety,” said Cortez Masto as she toured the site.
Cortez Masto said she believes her bill will get bipartisan support.
Coming off the hottest July on record and a record-setting heat dome throughout the Southwest, lawmakers including Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) are pushing new legislation to enact outdoor worker heat protections.
Her recently introduced bill would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish an enforceable standard to protect workers in the heat with measures like paid breaks in cool spaces, access to water, and limitations on heat exposure.
Today, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and the Southern Nevada Building Trades Unions… issued a call for federal rules that would require employers to provide adequate water and shade. Cortez Masto is sponsoring a bill named after a man who died of heatstroke after working outside for 10 hours in 105-degree temperatures.
“There has to be a standard for individuals working in extreme heat, and they don’t exist right now. And so, the goal here with my federal legislation is to ensure those standards are set at a federal level across the country to keep workers safe,” said Senator Cortez Masto.
…Cortez Masto mentions that at this time there is no official standard that OSHA has for working conditions that address extreme heat situations.
That is why she is working on stronger laws to help outdoor workers. This proposal is federal, which means that if approved it would not only help outdoor workers here in our state but also everyone in the country.
Las Vegas is one of the hottest cities during the summer in the entire U.S., and workers who must carry out their duties outdoors tend to feel the inclement weather more strongly. Rita Sibaja talked with construction workers and local authorities who are looking for stronger protections.
Eduardo Zavala, a member of the [Southern] Nevada Building Trades Union, tells us that this is a concern that not only overwhelms him but his coworkers. “We are exposed to heat during the entire working day, all day. So many of us suffer from heat stress and can become seriously ill,” he said.
So leaders [in Nevada] are advocating for change. “I have introduced legislation in collaboration with some of my colleagues to ensure that I have standards of protection for those who work in climates like this. Today, the temperature will hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Senator Cortez Masto.