Florida's outdoor workers face increased heat risk without new protections

Maria Leticia Pineda recounts the physical toll of long hours under Florida's heat as the state blocks local heat safety measures for outdoor workers.

Amy Green and Victoria St. Martin report for Inside Climate News.


In short:

  • Florida's legislature has passed a bill preventing local governments from implementing heat safety measures for outdoor workers, despite rising temperatures.
  • Advocates and scientists condemn the bill as dangerous, emphasizing the risks faced by workers without proper heat protections.
  • California, Oregon, and Washington have established formal heat standards, showing a positive impact on worker health, setting an example yet to be followed by Florida.

Key quote:

"This bill is cruel and inhumane."

— Kristin Dahl, principal climate scientist, Union for Concerned Scientists

Why this matters:

States like California and Oregon have been pioneers in establishing regulations aimed at safeguarding outdoor workers from the perils of heat exposure, including mandatory water breaks, access to shade, and monitoring for heat-related illnesses. These measures are seen as vital in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping, where employees are directly exposed to the elements. Critics of enhanced protective measures argue that such regulations could impose significant financial burdens on businesses, potentially stifling economic growth and job creation. There's also a political dimension, with some states - like Florida - prioritizing deregulation and business autonomy over new worker safety mandates.

Agricultural workers are exposed to hotter temperatures with climate change, but they are pressured to work faster to account for production losses.

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