Protection for farmworkers in extreme heat
Rep. Mariana Sandoval (D), District 23, called for stronger protections for Arizonans working outside in extreme heat after learning of the passing of Dario Mendoza, a 26-year-old farmworker. Mendoza died after collapsing in a Yuma agricultural field at the the end of July amid a record heat wave.
“He (Mendoza) had a long-time partner and two children. His tragic death is what spurred this movement and this investigation into the heat protections in Arizona,” Sandoval said.
Mendoza died of heat stroke while working in record-breaking temperatures this past July. Every single day in July reached at least 110 degrees or higher, Sandoval said. She is asking lawmakers to pass a law mandating standards for adequate rest, hydration and shade.
“They are non-existent in Arizona. There are five other states that have heat protections, we are not one of those states. There are federal laws that protect the workers. There is a general clause in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) that says employers need to protect their workers, but even in that federal law, there aren’t heat protections for any workers, in any industry, not just in the agricultural field, but in any other fields. We are trying to change that,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval said heat extremity is not really recognized or listed in protections the same as snow days.
“No one has heat like Arizona,” Sandoval said. She wrote a letter to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to ask for heat to be added to their list of disaster declarations. According to Sandoval, Governor Hobbs implemented a program through ADOSH (Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health) to inspect work sites to ensure workers in the heat receive adequate rest, shelter from the heat and water.
“This doesn’t exist out in the fields. There is no respite from the heat out in the fields, and we need to make sure that we put that in the law so that we can prevent any future deaths, especially in the fields,” Sandoval said.