A worker in a factory Chevanon Photography from Pexels

The California worker safety board has approved a series of standards to protect indoor workers from heat, as the country grapples with an extended heat wave that illustrates the dangers high temperatures can cause even for those not laboring directly under the sun.

The measure is set to impact about 1.4 million workers and 196,000 establishments, according to The Associated Press. However, it excludes state prisons and the Gavin Newsom administration blocked them over concerns about costs. The state estimates businesses will face an additional $1 billion in costs over the next 10 years to comply with the standards.

The rules need final approval from the Office of Administrative Law before going to effect, and authorities have requested that step be expedited. Doing so would turn California in one of the few states with such laws, along with Oregon and Minnesota.

Warehouses, schools and kitchens stand to be benefited from the standards, which require employers to cool work spaces or adjusts tasks or schedules to reduce the risk of illness when the heat index reaches 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30°C) when employees are present and below 82 °F (27.7 °C) where workers have to wear protective clothing or are exposed to radiant heat.

As classrooms are included, students can benefit from the rules applied to teachers, custodians and cafeteria workers. "Our working conditions are students' learning conditions," said Jeffery Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

"We're seeing an unprecedented change in the environment, and we know for a fact that when it's too hot, kids can't learn." Employees exposed to certain temperatures for less than 15 minutes during an hour will be exempt.

Local labor organization and agencies celebrated the decision, saying they are overdue and urgent as workplaces get hotter during the summer. "The standard will help workers ... stay safe from increasing threat of high heat on the job ... especially as we continue to see record-breaking heat and heat-related deaths on the rise," said Alice Berliner from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

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