WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration joined Restaurant Opportunities Centers United for a listening session with restaurant workers on the importance of protecting workers from extreme indoor heat in the workplace on Feb. 21, 2024.The discussion, held at ROC United’s New York City headquarters, highlighted the experiences of restaurant workers with the ways extreme indoor heat affects their health, safety and livelihood. OSHA officials discussed the agency’s commitment to addressing heat hazards in both outdoor and indoor environments, prevention methods to mitigate risks, and how OSHA can help empower workers to raise their workplace safety and health concerns with employers and advocates without retaliation.Many restaurant kitchens across the country – most notably in commercial kitchens – reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on any given day, exposing restaurant workers to extreme heat and humidity.During the session, Jace Eliscu, a line cook in New York City, said, “on a good day, temperatures were around 90 degrees. Luckily, I am trained in first aid and know how important it is to stay hydrated in these situations and how to handle the heat. However, I had numerous coworkers who were not as fortunate. On multiple occasions, we had coworkers who became dizzy, feeling as if they were about to pass out, and had to stop working, and one line cook ended up in the hospital with heat stroke.”“I’m glad I am sharing this with fellow restaurant workers and OSHA officials. I hope that OSHA will act now to help mitigate the risks and protect workers from excess heat in the workplace by developing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards,” he added.OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jim Frederick and New York Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson participated in the event.“Today’s discussion is a unique opportunity to learn from each other about ways we can address the growing hazard for workers in extreme heat environments,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “It is common to think about heat as a hazard to people who work outdoors in summer months, but it is not limited to outdoor workers. Heat is an indoor and outdoor hazard happening year-round, and we want to make sure employers have the tools they need to protect their workers.” 

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