Amid heat wave and fatalities reported, Miami-Dade sets new rules

DORAL, FL – Miami-Dade County residents have been living in extreme weather conditions during the past weeks with a heat advisory issued last weekend and a recent fatality reported in Homestead. 

Given this scenario, the Miami-Dade County Commission decided to give initial approval for heat standards aiming to protect workers while outdoors after dozens of workers and activists protested outside the Miami-Dade County Government building Tuesday, demanding action from authorities. 

The new ordinance would force companies in the county to provide water and a 10-minute paid break in the shade every two hours on days when the heat index hits 90 degrees to their employees. In addition, they must train workers and supervisors on heat exposure risks.

Companies that repeatedly fail to comply could face fines up to $3,000 per violation per day as a new county office will be opened to enforce this measure. The new set of rules would protect about 80,000 outdoor workers in the construction and agriculture trades, which still doesn’t cover the more than 300,000 people who work outside in the county. 

In order to become law, the new set of rules still needs to pass a committee vote and a final vote in front of the full commission. Similar proposals have failed in recent years.

Efrain Lopez, the South Florida farm worker that died in Homestead due to the extreme heat, is one of at least two farmworkers suspected to have died from being exposed to the heat wave in recent weeks. Heat is responsible for the passing of an average of 34 people a year and the hospitalization of hundreds more in Miami-Dade, according to records.

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