Miami-Dade County leaders discuss new laws to protect outside workers from extreme heat

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Amid recent heat deaths due to the current heat wave in South Florida, Miami-Dade County leaders held a press conference Tuesday for the introduction of new historic legislation to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat.

The Miami-Dade County Commission gave initial approval Tuesday for new heat standards for outdoor workers as dozens or workers and activists attended the meeting to support the new rules.

“It has to go through committee and second reading, and then it’ll be the first such law in Florida and the strongest such law if it passes as is in the entire nation,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Construction workers and farmworkers who have experienced the dangerous impacts of heat illness on the job attended the meeting alongside faith leaders, healthcare and emergency response workers, building trade unions and community leaders.

The request to get the “Que Calor Ordinance” before the commission was made by WeCount, an organization of agricultural, domestic and construction workers in South Florida.

Here are some of the proposed protections that the ordinance includes:

  • A heat exposure safety program to educate workers and their supervisors about the risks of heat exposure and the best ways to minimize heat-related illness.
  • On days with a heat index of 90+ degrees, a right to 10 minutes of paid rest and water breaks every 2 hours to cool down under shade to avoid heat stroke.
  • A new county Office of Workplace Health and Safety to help enforce labor protections and support employers and workers with implementing heat safety protocols that can prevent heat-related illness and save lives.

Miami-Dade Commissioners Kionne McGhee and Marlene Bastien also attended the press conference in support of the protection of those who work in the sweltering heat.

“It is too damn hot not to be able to have water, shade, rest and protection,” said McGhee at the press conference.

“We will have plenty of room for those who day in and day out work hard under the sun,” said Bastien.

Alejandro Perez, who works as a roofer in South Florida, told Local 10 that the days of extreme heat and humidity affect his vision and cause headaches.

Miami-Dade County Chief Heat Officer Jane Gilbert told Local 10 that outdoor workers are up to 35 times more likely to end up in the ER or be hospitalized for a heat-related illness.

“We can significantly reduce the amount of heat-related illness and death with this ordinance,” she said.

Watch the full press conference here:

About the Author:

Ryan Mackey is a Digital Journalist at WPLG. He was born in Long Island, New York, and has lived in Sunrise, Florida since 1994.