Florida residents enjoy warm weather virtually all year long, making it a popular place for people to vacation and to relocate to from colder climates. However, the sun and heat that brings many enjoyable experiences can also put people who work outside at risk of developing heat-related illnesses. In some extreme situations, workers across the country have even died as a result of these experiences.
USA Today recently reported on this growing problem, made worse at least in part by the earth's rising temperatures due to global warming. This is leading many workers to wonder what rights they have and how they can remain protected and safe at work. Unfortunately, there are not currently any federal laws that outline safety standards for employees as they relate to heat or sun exposure.
That means there are no defined minimum or maximum number of hours that a person might be required to be out in the heat while working. There is no requirement that employers ensure workers get regular breaks, are provided shady places to rest, and are given appropriate hydration or electrolyte replacement. An effort is underway to institute these types of requirements but it is not known when or if that may come to fruition.
For the moment, employees must rely on a general requirement that companies provide safe workplaces without any problems known to cause harm or death to workers. Employees can report poor working conditions, including lack of water, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration without fear of retaliation.