Jun 15, 2023
New protections to keep outdoor workers safe from heat dangers
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast were once again under a heat advisory Monday as the sultry summer continues. Some areas reached highs of 92 degrees with a feels-like
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast were once again under a heat advisory Monday as the sultry summer continues.
Some areas reached highs of 92 degrees with a feels-like temperature of more than 106 degrees.
"We should be protecting workers from hazardous conditions, and we will," President Joe Biden said recently as extreme temperatures are felt nationwide.
Biden said that heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer and announced new protections are coming to keep workers safe.
"There's a lot of Latinos, Hispanics working outside right now," said Manuel, an outdoor worker from Jupiter who only wanted WPTV to use his first name.
Manuel said he and many of his coworkers who work outside need better training and protection from hazards like the heat.
"We have families to feed," Manuel said. "I have three kids, a newborn, and I'm the breadwinner. I need to work."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to increase the enforcement and inspections of heat-safety violations, as well as increase education so crews know their rights and protection against possible retaliation.
"We have an opportunity to learn from these people that work so hard and an injustice for them is an injustice for all," Maricela Torres, the executive director with the Esperanza Community Center that advocates for Latino rights, said.
In June, Esperanza held a town hall along with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) to hear from workers about their experience working in the field.
"We depend on these workers. You could say they are essential to our climate resiliency efforts in every city in this country," Caleb Soto the director of worker's rights with NDLON. "The problem is we don't recognize it."
Soto said a study by NDLON found less than 20% of workers they spoke with in Florida have received any personal protection equipment or training from their employer.
"That is unjust, and it should not continue, and we need to advocate for their rights and for fair wages and for fair treatment," Torres said.
OSHA is working on nationwide guidelines for heat safety in the workplace.
"There is so much abuse associated with what they have experienced," Torres said. "It's not only outrageous but it continues to fuel why we do the work that we do."
About WPTV NewsChannel 5