Asunción Valdivia, a 53-year old father and farmworker at a Giumarra vineyard in California, died after laboring to pick grapes for ten straight hours in 105-degree heat. When he collapsed, his employer told Valdivia’s son, Luis, who was also working in the field, to drive him to the hospital, but Valdivia died before they arrived.
In Valdivia’s memory, on July 10, Reps. Judy Chu and Raúl Grijalva paved the way to protecting outdoor and indoor workers across the nation from extreme heat by introducing the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act (H.R. 3668).
Valdivia is among 815 workers who died on the job because of extreme heat between 1992 and 2017, based on cases documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tens of thousands more workers have suffered illnesses and injuries from exposure to excessive heat. Extreme heat poses the greatest risk to outdoor workers, such as those in agriculture and construction, but it also affects indoor workers, such as in the warehousing industry (e.g., Amazon). And the toll of deaths and injuries is continuing to climb as the climate crisis brings higher temperatures and humidity.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is well aware that extreme heat poses a significant risk to workers. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) first recommended OSHA adopt a standard to protect workers from heat more ...