Construction is a deadly industry. Whatever the minimum protection is, it can save a life. We are talking about a human right. We will see more deaths. Ana Gonzalez, Deputy Director of Policy and Politics at the Texas AFL – CIO

Despite increasing temperatures and a solid body of research showing the grave danger heat poses for workers – both indoor and outdoor – there is no federal heat protection for workers in the United States. Industry continues to resist and strike down state efforts to provide employees with basic heat protection and safety rights while OSHA remains at least a decade away from implementing federal heat standards and policy to protect employees.

A growing number of workers have no protection from increasingly more severe and frequent bouts of extreme heat. In Texas, the state with the highest number of worker heat fatalities, there are no required water breaks, no mandated access to shade, no heat-illness prevention measures, and no temperature threshold that requires outdoor work to cease. Texas HB 2127 went into effect this year, preempting any local ordinances that mandate rest and water breaks for construction workers, most of whom are Hispanic. Known as the “Death Star” law, “la ley que mata,” in Spanish, it means the “law that kills.” Florida is close to adopting similar legislation. American workers are becoming the new canaries in the mine.

Low-wage, black and brown, immigrant, and undocumented workers carry the burden of heat-related mortality and morbidity.

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