Tell Florida Legislators: Protect Florida Workers from the Heat!

Much of America's most physically demanding and dangerous work is done outdoors. And with a changing climate making our hottest regions even hotter, more of America's workers are laboring in increasingly high temperatures that present serious and even fatal health risks.

Protecting outdoor workers from excessive heat exposure is a humane, ethical, and common-sense practice that is good for workers and their families. No worker should be exposed to unnecessary health risks, and the many lower-income workers who work outside simply cannot afford extra medical bills or the lost or delayed wages that come with missed work and workers' compensation claims.

Heat stress protections are fairly simple and cost effective, focusing primarily on requiring employers to provide outdoor workers with access to water, rest, and shade. Yet workers in most states remain unprotected by common-sense heat standards that would prevent unnecessary illnesses and tragic outcomes from excessive heat exposure.

Among the most impacted states is Florida, which faces major challenges from climate change and already has one of the highest rates of heat-related hospitalizations in the country (even when the data are adjusted for age).

To push for much-needed protections in the Sunshine State, Equal Voice ally Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) is running a heat stress protections campaign with allies Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic PolicySouth Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, and WeCount!

Looking ahead to Florida's next legislative session in 2020, FWAF and allies are asking Florida-based individuals and organizations to sign their letter calling on Florida policymakers to pass common-sense heat protections for Florida's outdoor workers.

Will you sign your name today and urge Florida legislators to take action on this critical issue? 

To the Florida State Legislators:

We, the undersigned, are calling upon Florida lawmakers to pass common sense heat stress protections –water, rest, and shade – for workers across the state whose labor our economy depends on, but whose health is at risk from working in high heat environments.

Florida works, because people work. And, workers in the Sunshine State are at growing risk from rising temperatures as a result of global warming. Heat is the leading weather-related killer, and 17 of the last 18 years were the hottest on record in the United States. The current national epidemic of heat stress injuries and deaths will worsen in the coming years, as record-breaking summers are now becoming the norm. Outdoor workers and those who work in enclosed, confined spaces with minimal air circulation are at greatest risk of heat stress.

No worker should be at risk of hospitalization or death for merely going to work and performing their job. However, a recent report, Unworkable: Dangerous Heat Puts Florida Workers at Risk, revealed that "outdoor workers in every Florida county were exposed to … dangerous levels of heat … an extraordinary proportion of the time." Florida already has one of the highest rates of heat-related hospitalizations in the nation, even when the data are adjusted for age. Heat can also exacerbate other health problems, such as asthma and heart disease. Further, heat exposure can have unexpected short and long-term consequences that have only begun to be explored. A 2015-2017 study by Farmworker Association of Florida and Emory University examined the effects of heat on agricultural workers throughout Florida. Of participants: 49% had an internal body temperature that exceeded the heat stress limit on a typical workday during the study; 40% described experiencing three or more symptoms of heat-related illness during the previous week; 80% had mild dehydration, and 13% severe dehydration at the end of the work day; and more than 30% developed acute kidney injury on at least one day, which, if chronic can lead to kidney failure.

Florida's workforce is in danger. We must not wait until others have suffered or died from the ravages of heat stress. We call on our lawmakers to enact basic workplace protections against heat – including access to water, rest, and shade – for workers across the state without delay.

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