Florida Legislature Faces Backlash for Banning Heat Safety Measures

Florida Legislature Faces Backlash for Banning Heat Safety Measures

The bill would prohibit local governments from requiring employers to provide heat protection for workers.

In a controversial move, the Florida Legislature has passed a bill that prohibits local jurisdictions from mandating employers to provide workers with heat safety measures, such as access to water, rest and shade. This decision has sparked outrage among safety advocates like the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“Florida is the hottest state, making it the furnace of the nation. Yet too many of its legislators are choosing to bury their heads in the sand,” National COSH Co-Executive Director Jessica E. Martinez said in a statement. “In passing a heartless, unnecessary and shortsighted bill, elected officials are turning their backs on workers and disregarding the dangers of working outdoors in searing heat.”

Notably, the legislation comes as climate change intensifies the health risks associated with high temperatures. Florida, in particular, is known for its extreme heat, but the bill’s critics say the state’s Republican-led legislators are doing a disservice to workers. State Sen. Jay Trumbull (R-Panama City)—who sponsored the Senate bill—has a different take.

“There are businesses operating at all four corners of the state, and the intent is to make sure that we don’t have a patchwork of regulation,” Sen. Trumbull told South Florida radio station WLRN 91.3 FM (via WUSF). “We’re going to follow OSHA’s rule.”

OSHA currently lacks a specific standard protecting workers from extreme heat, though the agency does consider it a key hazard. As such, heat hazards fall under the general duty clause of the OSH Act of 1970, which requires employers to ensure workplaces are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”

Now that the bill (HB 433) has received final approval from the Florida Legislature, it moves to Governor Ron DeSantis. Once law, the legislation—House-sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Esposito (R-Fort Myers)—will delay the state’s ability to create heat regulations until 2028.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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