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Heat Protections For Workers Put On Ice

Due to “Corporate America” pressure, Miami-Dade County decided not to protect the health of employees who work outside. Construction and agricultural workers therefore lost the benefits of a  proposed new law which would have helped them “beat the heat” while performing their duties under the hot Florida sun. If it passed, the labor protections would have provided for mandatory  “water, rest and shade”. Despite support by many Miami-Dade residents, this “heat standard bill” – the first in the nation, the Miami-Dade Commission cowed to big business and deferred voting on it until late next year. This after meteorologists declared 2023 as the hottest summer ever!

Unfortunately, a majority of commissioners didn’t support the bill due for several reasons: a) the unknown price tag for the law’s enforcement, b) the regulations might not cover enough workers, c) the proposed law amounted to unnecessary regulation of agriculture and construction  industries, and the significant costs for businesses to comply with said regulations.

Workers and their advocates say the status quo is not enough to protect employees during the hot summer months. They cite stories from outdoor workers, especially undocumented people, who have been discouraged or even punished for taking breaks, drinking water or seeking shade. In fact, research has found the Florida farm workers to be chronically dehydrated, sometimes to the point of medical distress while working. As a result, they have valid workers’ compensation claims which require medical care and or lost wages!

A similar bill filed in Tallahassee, which suggested that employers provide water, rest and shade to its personnel with no penalties if companies choose not to, still failed under industry pushback and lack of political support for the last three years in a row. Other states, including Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington have heat standard protections for outdoor workers. California  adopted an outdoor standard nearly two decades ago and is now working on one for indoor workers, like warehouse employees.

The Miami-Dade County vote followed a multi-year campaign for heat protections largely led by WeCount, a South Florida advocacy group primarily representing farm workers, that has drawn national headlines and social media attention from celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo, the actor famously known for playing the Hulk in the Avengers movies. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) does recommend that employers provide those things, and it levies fines when workers die on the job due to heat stress, however as it stands, there are no specific laws in Florida mandating them.

If you’ve suffered a heat related injury while on the job or other work related accident, feel free to contact The Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. right away! We offer a free, no obligation case evaluation. Evan and his legal team are ready to explain your rights and fight for the benefits that you deserve. With over 30 years of experience, we know the “tricks of the trade” that insurance companies like to use to deny, delay, defend and diminish your case. In fact, there are no fees or costs unless there is a court award or settlement. Let us deal with the legal “mumbo-jumbo”, while you focus on your health. Contact us today at (866) I SUE YOU (866) 478-3968, (954) 998-0075 Text or evan@attorney4lfie.com. We are here to help!

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