New laws could soon be in place in Miami-Dade County to protect outdoor workers from the extreme heat.
On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission passed unanimously the first reading of an ordinance to create a heat standard for outdoor workers. It would require certain employers to have an approved mandatory heat exposure safety program, access to drinking water and shaded recovery periods.
The county could also enforce penalties if employers violate the ordinance. County leaders are calling this an important and historic legislation.
"One death in the hot sun is one too many,” Commissioner Kionne McGhee said. "It is too damn hot not to be able to have water, shade, rest and protection."
"People are dying everywhere from the heat,” County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
The legislation is also a huge win for local worker advocacy organizations in South Florida, who for the past two years have demanded a Miami-Dade heat standard to guarantee protections for outdoor workers.
Michael White works for Whiting-Turner Construction. Right now, they're building a new cancer center on Northwest 14th Street and 10th Avenue.
His day usually starts at 6:30 a.m. and he's not packing up until almost 12 hours later.
"It's been a different type of heat because the humidity is very strong,” White said. "You have to get the job done but you have to pace yourself."
White says light clothing, hydration and breaks are what gets him through the day, but he says this new ordinance is needed.
"It is a serious situation and I appreciate the county is taking a look to try and implement some things that'll make it easier,” White said.
The county commission passed unanimously on the first reading of the ordinance. Now it goes to a committee in September. If it passes as is, the mayor says it'll be the first such law in Florida and the U.S.
Miami-Dade County moves forward with ordinance to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat – NBC 6 South Florida (nbcmiami.com)