Federal employees should stay home if they can’t handle the “dangerous” Washington, D.C., heat wave, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Beth Cobert told agencies in a recent letter.
“During days with severe heat and humidity, agencies are reminded of OPM’s workplace flexibilities that may be used to reduce health risks,” Cobert wrote to agency human resources directors Friday. “With supervisory approval and to prevent work disruptions, a telework-ready employee may telework from home on a day when air quality conditions are poor.”
Cobert also told agencies to remind employees to drink plenty of water, and said workers may request annual leave “when severe heat and humidity are threatening to the employee’s health and welfare.”
Taxpayers in the private sector who fund those bureaucrats’ salaries don’t typically enjoy the same flexibility.
Weather forecasters expect temperatures in the D.C. region to reach 100 degrees with the heat index this week.
Obesity is a leading risk factor in heat exhaustion, and government employees have the highest obesity rate of any workforce group, according to a 2014 study published in the Medical Journal of Preventative Medicine. More than 36 percent of all federal, state and local “public administrators” are obese, compared with 27 percent of all U.S. workers.
“Carrying excess weight can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause your body to retain more heat,” according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
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