July 11, 2019 / Modified jul 11, 2019 9:21 a.m.

Grijalva co-sponsors bill protecting workers from heat stress

Workers would be entitled to shade, water and work breaks.

Yuma harvest Workers harvest greens alongside farm equipment in the Yuma area in this file photo.

Tucson-area Congressman Raúl Grijalva is co-sponsoring a bill to create federal standards to protect workers from heat stress.

Grijalva, California Congresswoman Judy Chu and others stood outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday morning to introduce the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act. The bill is named for a farm worker who died after a 10-hour shift picking grapes in temperatures that reached 105 degrees.

Robert Weissman, president of the group Public Citizen, said the bill is needed only because the Trump administration won't act on its own.

"We petitioned this administration, along with our colleagues the United Farm Workers, Farmworker Justice and 130 other organization to adopt a heat stress standard, but so far — radio silence," Weissman said.

The bill calls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt rules that mandate workers exposed to heat be given rest breaks, shade, and water. Federal labor statistics show heat killed 783 workers over the last 25 years.

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