Organizing for Heat Safety in the Workplace

June 16, 2022

In 2019, 43 workers died from heat illness nationwide and at least 2,410 additional workers suffered serious heat-related injuries and illnesses. As climate change leads to increasingly hot weather, occupational safety experts see an immediate need to protect workers at risk. On May 25, MassCOSH took part in a countrywide webinar organized by National COSH regarding heat and work. Titled Organizing for Heat Safety in the Workplace, workers from around the nation shared how they are using the hazard to fight for better protections and conditions on the job.

Attendees were able to build a common understanding of why organizing to prevent heat stress is relevant and learn about different strategies to organize workers around heat stress by listening to guest speakers from the south Florida-based We Count!, Oregon-based Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, and MassCOSH.

MassCOSH was represented by our very talented peer leader and member of our Board of Directors, Amelia Landry, who spoke to Teens Lead @ Work and MassCOSH’s efforts to understand and combat heat stress in school workers and students. Landry explained to attendees that many of Boston’s public schools are around 80 years old and are unable to remain cool during the summer and late spring months. She explained TL@W’s efforts around creating, distributing, and collecting survey information from students on how heat is affecting their academic performance, especially during the end of the year when students take important tests. TL@W plans to use the information they gather to press for no test days, an official policy that would ensure students are not required to take critical tests when classrooms’ heat indexes reach a certain point that makes concentration impossible.

The latter half of Organizing for Heat Safety in the Workplace was dedicated to learning about how to effectively write a complaint/demand letter to an employer regarding heat and other dangerous conditions, an important step in the organizing process. Break-out teams practiced writing letters to be able to train those in their area on how they should be written, issues that should be discussed, and how to get co-workers to sign on to the letter.

If you’d like to schedule a training about the dangers of excessive heat on the job and/or in the classroom, please reach out to MassCOSH at