Scorching temperatures are expected for days in northern Nevada as a major heat wave spreads across the western United States over the long weekend.

But despite many efforts to protect workers, there are still no government regulations for people who have to work outside the home.

The state’s protective measures, initially expected to go into effect this summer, were only recently submitted to lawmakers for approval and will not come into effect until 2024.

The Biden administration this week also proposed federal regulations for outdoor workers, including emergency plans, training, breaks, shade and water.

Several western states, including California and Washington, have passed rules requiring employers to provide adequate water, shade and breaks during extreme heat.

But Nevada — at least this summer — will still rely on the “general duty” clause, which requires employers to provide a work environment free from recognized hazards, including heat.

Victoria Carreon, director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, told News 4-Fox 11 that most businesses take this requirement seriously, but some bad actors do not.

“Right now, there is no temperature threshold that requires employers to take specific actions,” she said. “So our office has been working to develop a rulemaking that would provide more specific requirements for employers and employees.”

The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations submitted an initial draft of the proposed regulations to the Legislature last month.

This comes as Reno was named the fastest warming city in the United States and the number of heat complaints filed with Nevada OSHA in 2023 hit a record high, with 392 complaints filed last year.

One of the largest contractors in Northern Nevada — Q&D Construction — told News 4-Fox 11 that the company stops all work when temperatures reach 105 degrees. Their safety plan includes an educational campaign about spring heat illness, safety meetings, water, shade and cooling stations, and adjusting shifts to avoid the late afternoon heat.

“We’re moving a lot of our shifts to the early morning, 5:00, 6:00, or we’re pouring at night and laying asphalt at night to limit exposure,” said Safety Director James McCain.

At the end of the day, our employees are more important than getting the job done on time. I mean, we have deadlines, but at the end of the day, our employees are more important than getting these roads open.

McCain said NDOT and its contractors typically shut down construction the day before and after the holiday so workers don’t have to be on the road during rush hour.

Advocates say most employers are good workers, but that official regulations are needed to ensure that bad workers adhere to certain safety standards.

“Thousands and thousands of workers across the state are vulnerable. They’re left unprotected. And that’s unacceptable,” said Leo Murrieta, executive director of Make the Road Nevada. “Yes, next year will be a better year for workers, but that doesn’t do anything for the hundreds of people who could die this year.”

Carreon told News 4-Fox 11 they hope to have the state rules approved and in effect in early 2025, before the summer heat hits.

Send an email to reporter Ben Margiott at [email protected]. Follow@BenMargiott on X and Ben Margiott KRNV on Facebook.