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Florida workers brace for summer with no protections: 'My body would tremble' | Extreme heat | The Guardian

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  3 weeks ago  •  41 comments

By:   Ron DeSantis (the Guardian)

Florida workers brace for summer with no protections: 'My body would tremble' | Extreme heat | The Guardian
Effects of heat are expected to worsen after bill prohibiting municipalities from enacting shade and water protection is passed

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Effects of heat are expected to worsen after bill prohibiting municipalities from enacting shade and water protection is passed

For Javier Torres and other workers whose jobs are conducted outdoors in south Florida, the heat is unavoidable. A new law recently signed by Ron DeSantis, Florida's Republican governor, that prohibits any municipalities in the state from passing heat protections for workers ensures that it is likely to stay that way.

Torres has seen a co-worker die from heatstroke and another rushed to the emergency room in his years of working in construction in south Florida. He has also fallen and injured himself due to heat exhaustion.

Phoenix passes landmark rule requiring heat protection for outdoor workersRead more

"I work outdoors and have no choice but to work in the heat. I work often in painting and, in the majority of cases, we're exposed to direct sun and we don't have shade. Sometimes I feel dizzy and get headaches," said Torres.

He said employers rarely provide workers with water, leaving workers to ensure they bring enough water to work or find a hose to drink from.

The effects of extreme heat on workers are only expected to worsen due to the climate crisis. Many parts of Florida experienced record heat last year. Orlando hit 100F (37.7C) in August breaking a record set in 1938. The National Weather Service recently issued its outlook for summer 2024, predicting Florida summer temperatures will be warmer than normal.

"The heat can be very intense, especially as we get closer to summer," added Torres. "What we want as workers who labor outdoors is to have water, shade and rest breaks to protect ourselves."

At the behest of agricultural industry lobbyists, DeSantis signed HB433 into law on 11 April, a bill scaling back child labor protections that also included an amendment prohibiting all local municipalities in Florida from enacting heat protections for workers.

The exemption came in response to efforts by farm workers in Miami-Dade county to pass heat protections, including proper rest breaks, access to water and shade, as increasingly warming temperatures have expanded the days farm workers are exposed to heat.

Ana Mejia, a farm worker, worked for 11 years at Costa Farms in south Florida where she said she experienced two serious heat stress incidents on the job. Costa Farms was included on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health's Dirty Dozen report of unsafe employers in 2024. Costa Farms declined to comment.

"I worked outdoors during my entire time at Costa Farms in temperatures that quite often exceeded 100 degrees," said Mejia. "I had headaches, sweat excessively, my body would start to shake and tremble. I started to feel dizzy and a lack of coordination, and this feeling of shock and desperation. It was a very bad experience."

She recounted having to be brought to onsite medical care, but only being given an electrolyte drink and finding no medical professional on site or called to help her.

"The high standards of meeting productivity quotas per day combined with working in high temperatures is putting us in danger," added Mejia. "The rest breaks are at the discretion of supervisors and often they don't want to give rest breaks because it will reduce the productivity of the business."

There are currently no protections in the US for workers from heat. Only a handful of states such as California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota have passed any heat protections for workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha) is currently reviewing federal heat standard protections and issues fines against employers citing the general duty clause in cases where workers die due to heat stress, but worker groups have advocated that heat protections which include water, rest, shade, breaks and acclimatization are needed to save workers from heat illnesses and their lives.

Up to 2,000 workers in the US die every year due to heat stress, according to a 2023 report by Public Citizen.

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Several business groups are lobbying against heat protections for workers at the federal level, and lobbyists aggressively pushed lawmakers to pass the Florida heat exemption bill.

Orlando Weekly reported on texts from corporate lobbyists to lawmakers urging them to pass the heat exemption bill before the end of the legislative session.

"I haven't texted you in weeks-HEAT cannot die," wrote Carol Bowen, a lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors in a text message on 7 March to the House speaker Paul Renner's chief of staff Allison Carter, the day before the last day of the legislative session when the bill was ultimately passed. "The entire business community is in lock step on this. Thank you for your attention to this concern."

Ahead of a vote on the bill, the Florida chamber of commerce lobbyist Carolyn Johnson told Republican lawmakers their vote on the bill would be double-weighted on the How They Voted report the chamber sends to its members.

Jeannie Economos, an organizer with the Farmworker Association of Florida, said worker advocacy groups opposing HB433 were hoping the clock would run out for the bill to get passed by the state legislature. Several labor and environmental groups sent letters imploring DeSantis to veto the bill.

"It's incomprehensible that people who live in Florida, and are supposed to represent the people of Florida, can vote against the health and safety of the workers that make this economy run, who were considered essential workers just a couple years ago and given PPE, are now treated like this, and not giving protection from extreme heat," said Economos. "That makes no sense and it's unconscionable."

She said worker advocacy groups in Florida were regrouping and planned on developing strategies on how to override the Florida law, while continuing to advocate for heat protections at the federal level and conducting heat stress trainings for outdoor workers to protect themselves.

"For us right now, while HB433 is a setback to our campaign, we know the issue of extreme heat isn't going away anytime soon," said Oscar Londono, executive director of the worker advocacy non-profit WeCount!, which has been pushing for heat protections for workers through its ¡Que Calor! campaign. "We know that the issue is going to get even more and more relevant, and that workers will need to continue to do what is necessary to protect their lives on a job, whether that is through direct action, through workplace organizing, or through ongoing corporate campaign, workers will find a way to win the protection they deserve in Florida."

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Kavika
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Most of the trades work in the summer sun and all of them are short workers yet we can't even offer them some heat protection. 

Seems the politicians sitting on their asses in a airconditioned office have little if any sense.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago
politicians sitting on their asses in a airconditioned office have little if any sense

they'd be the first ones being taken to the ER's if they had to do it...

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2  Ozzwald  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago
Most of the trades work in the summer sun and all of them are short workers yet we can't even offer them some heat protection.

But it might cost the employers a few extra dollars to protect their workers.  Florida MUST protect the employers from incurring any expenses that might cut into their profit margins.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.2.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ozzwald @1.2    3 weeks ago
But it might cost the employers a few extra dollars to protect their workers.  Florida MUST protect the employers from incurring any expenses that might cut into their profit margins.

OMG, we can't have the employers forking out a couple of dollars to keep their employees alive, what the hell are you thinking Ozzwald?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.2.1    3 weeks ago

I worked outside in the trades for 20+ years in colorado and it was the weeks of below zero temps I didn't like. but then again, colorado averages something like 23% humidity. when I was on the gulf coast of texas, leaving the A/C in the condo to walk outside in the summer was like stepping into an oven.

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
1.2.3  Igknorantzruls  replied to  devangelical @1.2.2    3 weeks ago

owned a Roofing company

if you dont drink, you die

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.4  devangelical  replied to  Igknorantzruls @1.2.3    3 weeks ago

I learned that back in the early 80's when I replaced my own roof...

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

Having been raised in and live now in the dry heat of the desert Southwest, and having served/lived in in Southeast Asia for many years where the summer temps can rise to 80 to 100+ degrees F and a humidity of 80 or above at the same time as I am certain you are very well aware of. In time you can acclimatize but some cannot and those temps plus the sweating factor are ever present causes of heat exhaustion and heat stroke that can kill. On the other hand I lived in Yuma, Arizona for 5 years where the summer highs can reach anywhere from a dry 110 to 120 degrees F. The military bases there go by tropical hours where you go into work at 6:00 AM and get off at 2:00 PM. Those personnel that have to work on the aircraft flight lines doing aircraft maintenance in the hottest parts of the day have it the roughest. The concrete aprons and runways in front of the hangars can radiate heat up to close to 130 to 140 degrees plus! Areas in Florida are at about similar, but you throw in the high humidity and you have a lot of the same problems.

 .

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.3    3 weeks ago

Good recap, Doc and we do get humidity, lot's of it.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.3.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.3    3 weeks ago

My son is a crew chief at Hurlburt Field in Florida. He was working nights but spent some time working days. They actually wear shorts on the flightline

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.3.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.3.2    2 weeks ago

A lot depends on what the wet bulb temperature index is and whether a black flag situation is in place and raised. If a black flag has been raised, all outdoor activity is to be kept to the absolute minimum necessary or halted completely. The black flag is usually raised for temperatures in excess of 90 fegrees Fahrenheit.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3  devangelical    3 weeks ago

I can take the heat a lot easier than the cold now...

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  devangelical @3    3 weeks ago

overalls, commando ...

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
4  GregTx    3 weeks ago

Any employers worth working for are going to take care of their employees. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  GregTx @4    3 weeks ago

Generally a true statement but there are those that are not worth it and this is the kicker a huge portion of the people in these trades are self employed or contract workers and they are really SOL.

 
 
 
shona1
PhD Quiet
5  shona1    3 weeks ago

Morning..hmmm our tradies here all take their own water, drinks, food etc and have it in large eskies..(bins with ice in it)..you see them everywhere on building sites, houses, in trucks or where ever they are working..

Employers are not expected to supply bottles of water etc..but they do have standard morning smoko, lunch and arvo tea breaks..if it hits 40c and above depending on the employer they usually can leave early for the day...

Worst was working for Alcoa and the smelter here..the potrooms use to reach 55oC and could only stay in there for 20 minutes..hated even walking through them was glad to get outside even if it was 40oC was like a cool change after being in there...

256

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
5.1  Igknorantzruls  replied to  shona1 @5    3 weeks ago

i used to purchase many ALCOA products, what did you make ?

 
 
 
shona1
PhD Quiet
5.1.1  shona1  replied to  Igknorantzruls @5.1    3 weeks ago

The smelter here makes ingots that are shipped overseas...down Geelong they use to make ingots and aluminium foil..Pt Henry closed about 10 years ago..

The aluminium foil roll I bought I just finished took me 40 years to get through it.. it weighed a tonne and forgot how many hundreds of metres was on it..way better quality than the crap you get now for cooking etc...

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
5.1.2  Igknorantzruls  replied to  shona1 @5.1.1    3 weeks ago

INGOT ?

I bought literally thousands of rolls of Alcoa coil over the years, good stuff

 
 
 
shona1
PhD Quiet
5.1.3  shona1  replied to  Igknorantzruls @5.1.2    3 weeks ago

Aluminium ingots...they make these here then shipped overseas to China, Japan and the US..256

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
5.1.4  Igknorantzruls  replied to  shona1 @5.1.3    3 weeks ago

still dont know what an ingot is, ill look it up

 
 
 
shona1
PhD Quiet
5.1.5  shona1  replied to  Igknorantzruls @5.1.4    3 weeks ago

It's is what they turn molten aluminium or other metals into for it to become processed and made into what ever... aluminium car parts, aluminium cans, cookware etc..

They weigh around 20 kilo each..

256

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
5.1.6  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Igknorantzruls @5.1.4    3 weeks ago

Simply put, just a bar of melted metal.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6  devangelical    3 weeks ago

the cost of a bottle of water vs a work comp claim ...

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1  devangelical  replied to  devangelical @6    2 weeks ago

an example of a proactive maga business model...

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago

What will the employers do when all of their employees die of heat stroke?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
7.1  Texan1211  replied to  Trout Giggles @7    3 weeks ago

[deleted][]

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
7.2  evilone  replied to  Trout Giggles @7    3 weeks ago
What will the employers do when all of their employees die of heat stroke?

How long will it take for news to hit that some undocumented person heat stroked out on a state lawmakers roof job?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  evilone @7.2    3 weeks ago

I hope it doesn't take long

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
7.2.2  Texan1211  replied to  evilone @7.2    3 weeks ago

OMG< what if it is a Democrat who hired illegal aliens?

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
7.2.3  evilone  replied to  Texan1211 @7.2.2    3 weeks ago
OMG< what if it is a Democrat who hired illegal aliens?

Isn't it illegal for Democrats to own businesses in FL?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
7.2.4  Texan1211  replied to  evilone @7.2.3    3 weeks ago
Isn't it illegal for Democrats to own businesses in FL?

hard to take comments like that seriously.

SMH

But pretty sure at least one member here lives in Florida, so they may be able to answer your question.

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
7.2.5  evilone  replied to  Texan1211 @7.2.4    3 weeks ago
hard to take comments like that seriously.

I thought it was an obvious tongue-in-cheek comment. A reply in kind to the comment before it.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
7.2.6  devangelical  replied to  evilone @7.2.5    2 weeks ago

your jokes are for those with a normal sense of humor.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
8  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago

Here is a link to the National Weather Service's recommendations for hot weather work activity. It also describes the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index we used in the military for outdoor workers such as construction, flight line, and firefighters. There is a chart below that is similar to the one we used when making recommendations for how much work/rest time during certain indices

silly me...I forgot the link h/t to evil

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
9  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 weeks ago

So are we implying that people aren't smart enough to take breaks and drink water?  That they have to have their supervisors tell them to do basic stuff?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
9.1  devangelical  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @9    2 weeks ago

this law is created for maga employers to be able to fire outdoor workers that take heat breaks to drink water on the job...

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
9.1.1  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  devangelical @9.1    2 weeks ago

So you can't answer my question.  And you expect to be taken seriously blathering on about "maga" nonsense.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
9.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @9.1.1    2 weeks ago

probably not the answer you'd want, so why waste keystrokes, but you got the maga is nonsense part right.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
9.1.3  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  devangelical @9.1.2    2 weeks ago

There was no answer given.  Although it's not like I expected any.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
9.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @9.1.3    2 weeks ago
There was no answer given. 

maybe I should change my political affiliation...

 
 

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