Florida governor signs bill that bans local heat protection for workers

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Florida governor signs bill that bans local heat protection for workers

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday that bans local jurisdictions from implementing their own heat exposure protections for outdoor workers.

The newly passed legislation, House Bill 433, renders existing local heat protections “void and prohibited” starting July 1. 

Under the bill, local governments would not be able to guarantee outdoor workers access to rest breaks, clean water, shade or heat safety training.

The legislation comes after Miami-Dade County proposed a heat ordinance last year that would have required construction and agricultural companies to provide rest and water for local workers when the heat index rises to 95 degrees. After the state legislation was passed, the proposed ordinance was withdrawn from the county commission’s agenda without comment in March. 

The county has an estimated 300,000 outdoor workers, more than any other county in the state. 

At least two million people, including farm workers, in Florida work outside in hazardous heat conditions that jeopardize their health. According to the CDC, outdoor workers face several physical hazards while in the field, including extreme heat, heat exhaustions, and other problems.

Currently, national heat protection standards vary greatly from state to state, and there are no federal regulations that mandate protecting outdoor workers from heat and humidity. 

Oscar Londoño, executive director of worker advocacy WeCount!, an organization that’s been pushing for the Miami-Dade bill and farmworker protections, called the legislation cruel and a bad faith attempt to “keep labor conditions very low for some of the most vulnerable workers.”

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