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Florida Legislature Approves Law Banning Water Breaks and Cooling Measures for Workers

Republican majority preempts local ordinances aimed at protecting workers from heat exposure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Florida House of Representatives today voted to approve legislation specifically intended to prohibit local workplace standards requiring drinking water, cooling measures, recovery periods, posting or distributing materials informing workers how to protect themselves, and requiring first aid or emergency responses. The senate approved the measure yesterday.

In an attempt to preempt local protections set to be voted on in Miami-Dade county, this measure has been rushed through the state legislature ahead of sine die on Friday. The proposed protections in Miami-Dade county would require that outdoor workers have access to drinking water and regular shaded breaks, as well as training on protecting themselves from heat illness, injury, and fatality. Juley Fulcher, worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen, issued the following statement: 

“The punitive cruelty of denying workers access to water and protection from heat in one of the hottest states in the country is sinister and monstrous. Each year, hundreds of workers across the U.S. die excruciating deaths from heat. Not only does this bill rob workers of simple water breaks, it forbids the posting of educational materials to protect themselves from the heat. 

“The vicious inhumanity at the heart of this legislation will cost the lives of and impose needless suffering on workers – especially workers of color and immigrant workers, who make up a disproportionate share of agricultural and construction workers – across the state. Governor Ron DeSantis should veto this legislation.

“With Florida joining Texas in preempting even the most minor workplace protections for excessive heat exposure, it’s past time for the federal government to step up. With what’s likely to be the hottest summer of our lives approaching, Congress should passing the Asuncíon Valdivia Heat Illness, Injury and Fatality Prevention Act, which would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt interim heat standards right now, while the agency continues its years-long slog of adopting a final heat protection rule.”

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