On November 6, FCV was proud to stand with Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Winter Park), Sen. Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee), the Farmworker Association of Florida, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, the Florida AFL-CIO, and South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice in support of their Heat Illness Prevention bill, HB 513. This bill is an example of the holistic policy needed to address the climate change impacts that Florida families are already feeling.
As our climate changes, scientists predict Florida will experience up to four months of 100-degree days each year by mid-century. Extreme temperatures like this make outdoor work extremely dangerous. To ensure the health and safety of Florida’s working families, shade breaks and access to cool water must be mandatory.
The Heat Illness Prevention bill requires certain employers to provide cool drinking water, shade, and annual training to employees and supervisors on how they can keep their employees safe. If passed, the bill would also require the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Department of Health to adopt specified rules.
How does climate change and workers’ rights align? As our temperatures climb, the burden will be felt most by those who work outdoors, notably those in agriculture, construction, and landscaping industries. Extreme temperatures and lack of clean, plentiful water are a potentially life-threatening combination. These workers will increasingly be at risk for heat illness – a medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat level. The term includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heatstroke. The likelihood of injury or health by heat illness is increased by certain personal risk factors, including age, health, pregnancy, the use of prescription medications, and the consumption of water or caffeine.
At its core, climate change is a human health issue. Rising temperatures require rising standards for worker safety.
Across the state, Florida families are suffering every day from the increasingly heavy burden of a warming earth. By requiring employers to provide shade, cool-down breaks, and clean, plentiful water, lawmakers can help lift that burden. This bill also effectively writes new rules to how we will deal with an ever-changing climate, implementing high-heat procedures, preventative and first-aid measures, and providing access to other lifesaving resources.
A special thanks to Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), who was also in attendance at the Nov. 6 press conference, for her continued leadership on this issue. (Pictured above in red.)