NCL’s Child Labor Coalition praises the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to protect indoor and outdoor workers from extreme heat

July 3, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin,, 202-207-2831

WASHINGTON, DC – The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) strongly supports the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to protect indoor and outdoor workers from extreme heat. The U.S. Department of Labor announced the rule on July 2. The CLC is chaired by the National Consumers League (NCL) and has 37 organizational members, including numerous farmworker organizations and nonprofits. Both the CLC and NCL are members of the national Heat Stress Network, organized by Public Citizen.

Read the full proposed rule.

While the proposed rule does not recommend age-specific guidelines for child or teen workers, they would benefit greatly from OSHA-mandated heat-related safety protections. Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke, injuries, illnesses, and even death.

Exemptions to U.S. child labor law allow children in agriculture to work at age 12, and, in some cases, even younger, and those exemptions allow them to work unlimited hours, when school is not in session.

Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy at the Child Labor Coalition, emphasizes the dire conditions faced by outdoor workers: “Farm workers perform physical labor in high heats without the benefit of shade. They work long hours under the hot sun with temperatures well exceeding 90 degrees, sometimes over 100 degrees without a break. They risk passing out, heat stroke, and death. We are most worried about children and teens. There is no doubt that putting rules in place will save lives.”

“President Biden and Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su have taken an important first step,” says Maki. “The proposed rule provides a pivotal opportunity to have a national conversation and develop comprehensive OSHA regulations to protect workers across many industries. We strongly urge the Department to add specific protections for children working in agriculture. We know that children are at increased risk of heat illness.”

The Protect Indoor and Outdoor Workers from Extreme Heat rule proposes several critical measures to address worker safety:

  1. Heat Risk Evaluation: Employers would be required to evaluate heat risks and develop comprehensive plans to mitigate these risks, especially when temperatures exceed 90 degrees.
  2. Rest Breaks and Hydration: Mandatory rest breaks and access to drinking water are key components to ensure workers stay safe and hydrated.
  3. Acclimatization Protocol: Employers must develop protocols to help new employees or those returning from vacation or sick leave adjust to the heat during their first week back.
  4. Heat Illness and Emergency Response Plan: This includes appointing individuals to implement heat emergency procedures, instructions for transporting affected employees to emergency medical facilities, and procedures for responding to signs of heat-related illness or heat stroke.

The proposed rule extends to indoor work environments as well, ensuring that workers in hot indoor settings are also protected. However, the proposed rule specifically excludes professions such as firefighters and emergency response teams.

Employers would also be required to provide training, implement procedures to respond to heat-related illnesses and take immediate action to assist workers experiencing symptoms of heat emergencies.

Summer heatwaves are upon us, and while many of us retreat to air-conditioned spaces, countless workers endure the blistering sun and soaring temperatures. For those laboring in the fields, on construction sites, and in other outdoor environments, extreme heat can be deadly. Record-breaking temperatures across the United States create life-and-death situations for outdoor workers, and each year, thousands of workers suffer from heat-related illnesses and hundreds die.

Whether working indoors or outdoors in high heat, the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness are the same and include weakness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fevers, overheating, and muscle cramps. According to the Mayo Clinic, workers are encouraged to exercise caution when temperatures are between 80 and 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) and extreme caution when they are between 90-103 degrees. Temperatures higher than that are considered dangerous.


About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit