It’s hot. For farmworkers without federal heat protections, it could be life or death

The lack of federal heat protections for US farmworkers during heatwave events raises concerns over their safety and health.

The heat crisis: Soaring temperatures during harvest times pose significant risks to farmworkers, who often pick fruit early in the morning to avoid the intense heat.
* Lorena Abalos, a former farmworker, recounted instances of workers becoming ill due to the extreme heat on the fields, and the calling of ambulances was sometimes needed.

Federal action: In response to heatwave-related deaths, the Biden administration is working on creating heat protections for workers. However, two years into the process, the rulemaking is not yet complete.
* Doug Parker, assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health at the Labor Department, has noted that low-wage outdoor workers, often immigrants or people of color, are most affected.

By the numbers: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36 workers died due to environmental heat exposure in 2021, while in 2020 the number was 56.

Protection progress: Some states, like Washington, are implementing their own heat protection regulations for workers. In Washington, a permanent rule effective from July 17 will encourage “cool-down rest periods” from 80 degrees onwards and ensure access to shade, cool drinking water, and mandatory rest periods when temperatures exceed 90 and 100 degrees.

Farmers’ perspective: Some farmers argue that heat regulation measures may not always be welcomed by workers paid by the amount they pick, as paid breaks could potentially reduce their earnings. They also point out that handling certain crops during hot weather can damage them, necessitating early morning work schedules.

View original article on NPR

This summary was created by an AI system. The use of this summary is subject to our Terms of Service.

Contact us about this post






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *