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Outdoor workers concerned over new Florida law banning heat protections

By Zitlali Solache

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    WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (WPTV) — Landscape, farm and construction workers are no strangers to Florida heat.

Now, with a new state law banning heat protections for outdoor workers, some have concerns about how tough the job will be.

“No, it’s not easy, the work,” shared worker Alejandro Rincón. “Unfortunately it is hard because of the heat, the work we do.”

House Bill 433 goes into effect July 1, preventing city and county governments from establishing heat exposure requirements for outdoor workers.

“It’s obvious that things have changed, that it has gotten hotter,” shared Rachel Weiser with the Farmworker Coordinating Council. “That’s the reality, so what they need, they need protection. They need long-sleeved shirts, they need the water, they do need shade.”

Currently, there are no laws in the state mandating shade, water and rest for outdoor workers. The law does not change anything but prevents change from happening come Monday.

Weiser said regardless of the law, they will continue to advocate for protections.

“These workers have pride in this work,” stated Weiser. “So with that comes the community’s need to support these individuals who are doing hard labor. Hard labor that we sit down every day and get to eat that food.”

On Wednesday, FEMA reported extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the nation. U.S. Rep. Rick Roth, R-Fla., co-sponsored the bill.

He told WPTV’s Zitlali Solache that local governments have attempted to over-regulate the issue. Roth said as someone in the agriculture industry, workers are covered to some degree.

As for advocacy groups, many said they want to partner with local, state and federal officials to block the bill.

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