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Florida lawmaker pushes for federal heat protections for workers in wake of state law

Martha Lopez, 37, looks on while working at a farm on Friday, April 21, 2023, in Homestead, Fla.
Matias J. Ocner
The Miami Herald
Martha Lopez, 37, looks on while working at a farm on Friday, April 21, 2023, in Homestead, Fla.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling on federal officials to approve workplace protections for heat-related issues.  

In a letter sent to a number of agencies last week, Castor (D-Tampa) singled out a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April that prevents community officials from setting heat exposure limits for outdoor employees and contractors.

The legislation comes as Florida continues facing record-breaking summer heat, including across the greater Tampa Bay region.

READ MORE: After DeSantis blocked local heat standards, federal officials tout national efforts in Florida

"Florida's economy runs on the folks who work outside, whether it's in agriculture or tourism or construction," Castor said. "And now we're suffering from hotter days [and] extreme heat."

Heat continues to be the leading cause of weather-related fatalities across the United States.

In April, Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials drafted an initial framework that unanimously recommended moving forward with talks over federal rules to protect workers.

Castor reiterated that such protections could help those most impacted by heat.

"Hopefully, that sends a message first to the [Florida] GOP legislature and Gov. DeSantis that we need to value our workers and take care of them make sure they remain productive," Castor said. "But also to the federal federal agencies that we need a standard production."

Earlier this week, Department of Labor officials met with state and federal lawmakers in Pembroke Pines to discuss the proposed federal policy.

Until that moves forward, officials are focused on general support for the health and safety of workers.
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Tyler Luginski
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