Proposed Florida bill urges action regarding heat illness

May 18, 2019

Under a proposed bill, Florida's construction and agriculture employers could soon be required to train outdoor workers and managers regarding avoiding heat-related illnesses, according to

Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), the heat illness prevention bill would set a statewide standard for all outdoor workers to be given plenty of drinking water, access to shade and 10-minute rest breaks after every two hours of outside labor.

The bill, and its companion bill in the Florida Senate, also would require annual training to spot signs of heat exhaustion and allow for acclimatization—a two-week period to gradually adapt to a hot environment.

Advocates in Florida have been pushing for tougher standards, arguing that rising global temperatures will make outdoor work unsustainable without the proper regulations.

The legislation could face challenges as it does not have any co-sponsors in the Florida House of Representatives and has not yet been assigned to any legislative committees.

Aside from avoiding general hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently does not have a standard for safety practices in indoor or outdoor heat exposure. OSHA recommends employers provide enough water, rest and shade for workers in hot environments and encourages employers to take precautions if the heat index is 91 degrees or higher.