Heat-illness is a concern for Florida's outdoor workers. Advocates want the legislature to help
Over the summer Florida saw a rising number of excessive heat warnings and experts say those high temperatures are likely to continue—in some cases putting people’s health at risk. Now advocates are looking to lawmakers to increase protections for outdoor workers.
Heat-related illnesses can happen when there is extreme heat causing much higher temperatures and the body is not able to properly cool down.
Jeannie Economos with the Farmworker Association says it’s dangerous for all Floridians, but outdoor workers are especially vulnerable.
“This is an issue of public health because this affects our healthcare system, and it is not people using the healthcare system. It is the abuse of the healthcare system not protecting the people who do the rest of the work that we all depend on," Economos says. "We all depend on somebody who's gonna go up on our roof and fix our roof for us. We depend on landscapers, who landscape the yards, we depend on farm workers for our food and if we’re not protecting them, it turns to a public health issue, and it is absolutely an issue of health justice”
The Farmworker Association is pushing lawmakers to implement state rules that would put added safety measures in place for outdoor workers—like requiring regular breaks on hot days and providing adequate water and access to shade.
Economos says her organization has pushed for changes through the legislature in the past, but she’s hopeful lawmakers will consider the move during the legislative session that starts in January.