Protect Workers From the Harms of Extreme Weather

Target: Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader

Goal: Protect outdoor laborers from the increasing health risks of extreme heat.

As temperatures continue to rise and new, record-shattering heatwaves worsen living and working conditions each year, the dangers we face increase dramatically. Outdoor laborers, such as agricultural workers, are experiencing more heat-related injuries, illnesses, and even death due to the extreme weather caused by climate change.

People who work outside during heatwaves experience very elevated risks of heat stroke, particularly when they are working in areas with higher humidity. Hot, humid conditions literally stop the body from being able to cool itself. Workers in India and Pakistan faced these challenges in the spring, but laborers could experience them in many places throughout the world – including the US. Closer to home, farmers in the Western United States are increasingly facing crop failures because of high temperatures and droughts. This is leading to heightened mental health issues, including higher suicide risks among those financially dependent on agriculture. While it is currently workers like agricultural laborers who face the most increased risks, as temperatures continue to climb many other professions will see their risks rise as well. This ranges from anyone with jobs requiring a lot of walking, working on ladders or with heavy machinery, to office workers stuck in buildings without proper cooling systems or ventilation. Part of what made the 2021 heatwave in the Pacific Northwest so dangerous is the consistent lack of cooling systems available in commercial and private spaces.

This issue, as with so many issues facing us today, will disproportionately impact marginalized communities. “Workers from vulnerable groups are also more likely to be exposed to climate extremes at work,” according to Stanford Health Experts Michele Barry and Michele Tigchelaar. Low-income workers are less likely to be able to afford to take time off when conditions become extremely dangerous to work in and may lack access to the healthcare necessary when experiencing heat-related illnesses. Tigchelaar’s 2020 study fount that “the average number of days U.S. agricultural workers spend working in unsafe conditions will double by mid-century, and, without mitigation, triple by the end of the century.”

Sign below and demand that Congress act urgently to protect workers from the extreme weather brought on by climate change.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Schumer,

The higher temperatures and droughts brought on by climate change are increasingly posing a risk to outdoor workers, like agricultural laborers. A 2020 Stanford study found that, unless deliberate action is taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, agricultural workers will double the number of days they spend working in extremely dangerous, high heat environments. But it isn’t just agricultural workers facing increased risk. Workers in a variety of jobs, both indoor and outdoor, face rising risks as indoor cooling systems and adequate access to healthcare remain out of reach for many.

Congress must take action to protect workers from the ravages of climate change, and you need to do everything in your power to ensure it does.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: US Department of Agriculture


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196 Signatures

  • Kristen Bossert
  • Anne Burnett
  • Kevin Crupi
  • Jude McCoy
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