Worker under intense heat
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' bill preventing local governments from requiring heat protection for outdoor workers recently went into effect this past July 1 Via Pexels

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in April preventing local governments from requiring heat protection for outdoor workers. The controversial bill officially went into effect this past Monday, July 1.

The bill, which is in place in one of the hottest states in the country, establishes multiple restrictions for city and county governments, including the ability to set heat exposure requirements not already required under state or federal law.

The new law is expected to affect the roughly two million people in Florida who work outdoors, ranging from industries like construction and agriculture. On average, the state's summer can reach the early hundred degrees Fahrenheit, with the humidity and strong sun making it feel even hotter.

When the bill was initially passed, Rep. Tiffany Esposito of Fort Myers sponsored the House version of the bill. She told outlets her husband has worked in South Florida's construction sector for two decades and that the industry takes worker safety seriously.

"If we want to talk about Floridians thriving, they do that by having good job opportunities. And if you want to talk about health and wellness, and you want to talk about how we can make sure that all Floridians are healthy, you do that by making sure that they have a good job. And in order to provide good jobs, we need to not put businesses out of business," Esposito said.

Here's what else you should know about the bill.

What is HB 433?

The House Bill 433, referred to as the Employment Regulations Bill, details it will prohibit political subdivisions from:

  • Requiring an employer, including an employer contracting with the political subdivision, to meet or provide heat exposure requirements not otherwise required under state or federal law.
  • Giving preference, or considering or seeking information, in a competitive solicitation to an employer based on the employer's heat exposure requirements.

The bill's analysis dives deeper into the decision to regulate heat exposure protections, saying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed the best practices over the years. It adds that recognizing heat-related illnesses "required education and close collaboration between employers and employees."

The legislation would make any local heat protections measures "void and prohibited," within all 67 Florida counties.

Specifically in Miami-Dade County, this legislation would kill the county's proposal to require 10-minute breaks in the shade for every two hours for any construction and farm workers outside.

Immigrants and undocumented workers are expected to be highly affected by this new bill, as they may be further constrained in their ability to seek safety protections from dangerous heat due to the threat of employer retaliation, which could even result in deportation, the Union of Concerned Scientists published in 2021.

From 2010 to 2020, the University of Florida recorded 215 heat-related deaths in the state, with the number of annual deaths varying between 10 and 28. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, average annual heat-related deaths have risen 95% from 2010 and 2022.

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