Sunday, May 26, 2024

Drink Plenty Of Water...

...Except if you work in Florida; they just outlawed heat breaks.
After Florida lawmakers this year barred local heat protections for workers, a new study cites “strong and robust evidence that excessive heat increases the frequency of injuries” to workers — with risks, particularly in the South.

The Workers Compensation Research Institute last week released the study, which uses workers’ compensation insurance claims data and temperature data from 2016 to 2021. The study included data from 24 states in the South, Midwest and Northeast.

In part, it found that the probability of work-related accidents increases by 5 percent to 6 percent when maximum daily temperatures top 90 degrees, compared to days when temperatures are 65 degrees to 70 degrees. It also cited a “clear increase” in numbers of days with temperatures over 90 degrees and 100 degrees over a four-decade period.

“It is apparent that excessive heat has become more frequent, and if these trends continue, the result will be more heat exposure for the workforce,” the study said.

The study was released less than a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill (HB 433) that includes preventing local governments from requiring heat-exposure protections for workers. The bill, which also will prevent local governments from placing wage requirements on contractors, drew heavy debate during this year’s legislative session and was backed by business groups.
Okay, picture this… you are a roofing contractor, it is 95F out in the blazing sun and you cut out all water breaks because Florida laws says you can. One of your employees passes out from the heat and falls off the roof and dies. OSHA is hopping up and down mad at you for not giving them water and heat breaks… you say the state law doesn’t require you to give breaks but they say federal law does and fines you a million dollars.
The most shameful law Florida passed this year (Opinion)
Sun Sentinel
By Scott Maxwell
May 21, 2024

I’ve often thought that if I were to write a book about modern politics, it would be titled “The Death of Shame.” The reason: We’ve entered an era where many politicians are no longer ashamed of behavior that would humiliate most decent souls.

Still, every once in a while, politicians do something so bad, even they try to hide from their own acts.

This past legislative session, that something was a new law that makes it illegal for Florida counties to guarantee basic workplace safety for outdoor workers who toil in extreme heat — like providing shade and water.

This is the kind of stuff most people would provide for dogs.

We’re talking about water breaks in 100-degree heat. And momentary shade for roofers and farmhands.

A few counties had started talking about mandating such things — around the same time a Parkland farm worker was found dead in a ditch from heat exhaustion.

But Florida businesses — led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which is funded by companies like Publix, U.S. Sugar, Disney and Florida Power & Light — didn’t want to be bothered with new regulations. Even those meant to keep workers safe or even alive.

So their lobbyists pushed a bill that would make such safety rules illegal. Aside from water and shade, the law also bans local rules requiring employers to offer “appropriate first-aid measures or emergency responses related to heat exposure.”
The Republicans bend over backward for businesses; anything they want, they get! 
 So GOP lawmakers dutifully adopted the chamber’s talking points with a goal of distracting the public from what the bill actually said — that local governments can’t guarantee “water consumption,” “cooling measures” or even “appropriate first-aid measures.” Backers instead said they simply wanted to avoid a “patchwork” of different regulations in different cities and counties.
They just conveniently forget federal labor laws. Here is what OSHA has to say…
Employer Responsibilities (OSHA Standard: General Duty Clause)

Under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that "is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees." The courts have interpreted OSHA's general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard. This includes heat-related hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.

NIOSH's Recommended Heat Standard

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published criteria for a recommended standard for occupational heat stress. The NIOSH document includes recommendations for employers about how to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Criteria for a Recommended Standard – Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2016-106, (February 2016).
No matter what the Florida law says, they still have to follow OSHA standards.

NPR wrote,
"This purposeful act of cognitive dissonance is proof that the governor and state Legislature are not acting in the best interests of Floridians, but rather to protect profits for the fossil fuel industry," said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of the nonprofit Cleo Institute, which advocates for climate change education and engagement.
The Republican party is not a party for the people but rather a party for the uber rich, it is the party for the 1%ers.

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