Heat Stress in Chelsea Harms Workers

July 22, 2021

Each year, high temperatures and heat stress kill more people than any other natural disaster in the US. While we are always concerned about workers who work outdoors, those who work indoors without air conditioning can also be impacted when high temperatures, humidity, and long hours combine to create very dangerous working environments. 
In the last week of June, MassCOSH was contacted by La Colaborativa in Chelsea after they received a call from workers in a laundromat in Chelsea who were experiencing significant heat stress symptoms. MassCOSH arrived on the scene and recorded temperatures of 95 degrees inside the laundromat. With humidity at 75%, this created a shocking heat index of approximately 106 to 120 degrees.
OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in hot environments. However, under the OSH Act’s General Duty Clause, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized serious hazards in the workplace, including heat-related hazards. MassCOSH helped workers report the dangerous conditions to OSHA which launched an investigation. MassCOSH also worked with employees to help them understand their right to refuse dangerous work without retaliation. We will continue to support La Colaborativa and the laundry workers as they fight for a healthy and safe workplace.