us politics

Here’s Why Florida Workers Could Be Sweating A Lot More This Summer

Gov. DeSantis just signed a controversial new law into effect. Here’s Why Florida Workers Could Be Sweating A Lot More This Summer Giphy

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For most Americans, temperate spring temperatures are here and it’s a great time to be outside. In just a few short months, however, much of the nation will be sweltering under oppressive summer heat.

And without legal protections, that means some of the most vulnerable workers — like those in the agricultural industry — could be at risk of heat exhaustion or worse.

A new Florida restriction

Aptly nicknamed “the Sunshine State,” Florida is known for its hot and often humid temperatures throughout the summer months. But that doesn’t mean those who work outdoors in the Florida heat will be getting the relief they’ve been seeking.

Instead, lawmakers passed — and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed — a new law precluding local jurisdictions from mandating protections from the heat.

Specifically, Miami-Dade County had been poised to implement safeguards guaranteeing:

  • Regular breaks from the heat with pay
  • Reliable access to shade
  • Available water during summer heat

But now the roughly 300,000 county residents who work outside are no longer expecting those protections.

The potential ramifications

DeSantis’ decision to sign the new law, which was advanced through the state legislature last month, drew almost immediate backlash. Some academics, including George Washington University epidemiologist David Michaels, predicted dire results.

“It’s outrageous that the state legislature will override the elected officials of Miami Dade or other counties that really recognize the importance of protecting that community of workers,” he said.

With temperatures only trending upward in recent years, concerns about exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death are elevated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed 436 worker deaths between 2011 and 2021 related to heat exposure.

But the governor argued the Miami-Dade provision would’ve only made things worse, asserting: “I think they were pursuing something that was going to cause a lot of problems down there.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 15th, 2024
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