Congress debating special protection for farm workers outside in the heat

By  | 

WASHINGTON (WJRT) (7/10/2019) - Federal lawmakers say farm workers and other laborers working outdoors are feeling the heat from climate change, so they deserve more protection.

Congressmen led by Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva are pushing for special protections for farm workers and laborers outdoors in the heat.

Members of Congress and labor advocates were starting to sweat early Wednesday just standing in the Washington heat, when they assembled to support workers performing manual jobs in even hotter conditions.

They are pushing for protections against heat-related illness and death.

Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, helped introduce a bill that would require employers to provide laborers like farm and construction workers with water, paid breaks in cool places and access to shade while working.

"I don't think it's an overreach on the part of the federal government to protect these workers," he said. "As climate change continues to heat up this globe of ours and this country of ours, particularly in the Southwest, the incidences of heat-related fatality and injuries are going to increase."

The U.S. House Workforce Protections Subcommittee will be discussing the bill during a hearing Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Labor provides information and resources on their website for workers exposed to hot conditions on the job. But there currently are no special protections for the workers.