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Miami Dade's New HEAT ORDINANCE: The Fine Print

From episode: EP44: Miami Dade's New HEAT ORDINANCE can Break the Green Industry

Willie: So talk to us and tell us what is proposed in this ordinance, aside from what we've spoken about, but what's in that five print that has, you know, most of the people that know about this ordinance upset?

Barney: One of the things are the fines and the fines and the department that the county is going to start is going to be fine -based. So it's going to be strictly run and paid for by fines. So then that just means the inspector is going to come out. He's going to find something wrong so they can raise money for their department.

Arianna: So this is one of the, you know, one of the really most objectionable parts for us, which is the creation of a new agency or a new office in Miami -Dade County dedicated to the health and welfare. So it's not just heat. Right. And so what we start to see is that this can encourage health and welfare. Yeah.

Willie: So where's the health Ordinance in that?

Arianna: Yeah. It's not just, I can't remember now if it's health and safety or health and welfare, you know, welfare of employees in Miami -Dade County. But in any event, it doesn't exist right now. It would be newly formed and funded 100 % by fines.

Willie: And it will be fines in the agriculture, horticulture and construction industries only. Only. When there's a bunch of other industries that are outside labor as well.

Arianna: And so what happens is that right now, you know, we'll say, well, you know, is that really that bad? Well, look, first of all, OSHA already does this, right? And OSHA has a set of rules in place that we all follow, that we all know what they are, and they have to give us notice, for example, before they come onto our properties. In this, there is none of that. So what it opens up really, and I think what's most concerning and which should be concerning to everybody listening to this, is that now the county would have the unfettered right to come onto our properties, presumably under heat, but they could be looking for all kinds of other things because this would open the door to an expansion there. It's so unclear, but we don't want that door to open. I mean, we've got OSHA in place.

Barney: They could start regulating every other aspect of our business. I mean, they could come on, they say they're coming in to look at heat. They could see when you're a tractor driver, someone driving a tractor. They're like, I think I need to start regulating the tractor driving. They need licenses to drive the tractors or this or that.

Willie: Yeah, it can just open doors.

Barney: Yes.

Willie: What are some of the reasons people can get fines based off this new ordinance?

Arianna: Yeah, so the fines are based on the proposed ordinance says you have to have a heat plan in place, which we do already. We need to have that in place for OSHA.

Willie: Which is just water?

Arianna: Well, water rest and shade, right? You know, under the general welfare clause of OSHA, we have to provide break rooms. And so this would mandate having this and then every having a mandatory 10 minute break every two hours.

Willie: That's paid for?

Arianna: Having shade enough area, as it's described, so that every person on your work site could stand without touching each other. So it's pretty specific on infrastructure there. It applies to every outdoor environment, including people working under pull bars, for example. Yeah, that do have, you know, cover from the sun. It has a very specific range on the temperature of the water. So when you ask, you know, how are the fines imposed? The fines are imposed because they can come and test your water. And if it's one degree off, fines of ranging from $1 ,000 to $3 ,000 per person.

Barney: They have a very specific range.

Arianna: It's 35 to 77. Under 35 is basically ice.

Willie: So at least 77 degrees.

Arianna: A maximum of 77 degrees.

Barney: And then one of some other aspects of that is you have to verbally tell the people every two hours and every two hours.

Willie: You have to verbally tell them.

Barney: And if you don't, right. To drink water, take a break and drink water. And you could get fined if you don't.

Willie: If you don't tell them. So that's physically calling every single individual on staff, letting them know that they have to stop.

Arianna: You actually have to have enough supervision so that you've got a supervisor for 20 employees that would be there to tell them that every physically.

Willie: So for every 20 employees, you've got to have a supervisor now in place to be able to tell them they need to drink water, which is something that they obviously know to drink water.

Barney: If I'm not mistaken, you can get a fine for not telling them to drink water. Is that correct?

Arianna: That is correct. If you don't have that reminder in place. And look, and one of the outcomes of all of this that we see is that you're going to be creating a pretty antagonistic environment where it becomes very easy for an employee. Because there is, and gosh, there's just so many problems with this.

Willie: In the fine print.

Arianna: Yeah, there's no due process. So which means that once the fine is imposed, there's no appeal process.

Willie: You cannot appeal it.

Arianna: You cannot appeal it. So of course.

Willie: What are the fines ranging in? Between $1 ,000 and $3 ,000 per person.

Barney: So if you have 10 people working in the field, that's let's just say a $2,000 fine. So that's going to be 2,000 times those 10 employees. So guys listen to this. $20,000.

Willie: So every day you have to tell them every two hours to drink water. If you skip one time because you had a vacation planned or your wife got sick, or now you're in the hospital. Now you have your whole staff that can sue you on top of getting a fine just because you didn't tell them to drink water. And that's how it works. And you were also saying, which that is not fair. In my opinion, you were also saying that if your coworker, talk about the coworker.

Barney: Everybody's liable on this. So even your coworker working with you, say someone's getting heat exhaustion. If you don't recognize that and report it, then you could actually fall as a potentially liable for that person also.

Willie: So you can get sued?

Barney: So it goes all the way to the landowners, all the way down the line from employees to supervisors, owners, landowners, and so on.


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