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Intense heat is responsible for 170,000 work-related injuries each year. Do employers care?

November 14, 2022
2022 08 30 at 3.59 PM


Extreme heat—a phenomenon that is increasing in severity and frequency as the planet warms—is the deadliest weather-related disaster, killing more than 5,600 people each year, according to some estimates.

One 45-year-old farmworker, Carmen, who withheld her last name out of fear of retaliation, described a workplace that discouraged workers from staying hydrated. “They scold us if we ask for time to drink/get water,” she reported, adding that she is often placed in fields far from toilets, a choice she believed her employer makes, “with the intention that we don’t waste time.”

“We have to work too fast to take the time to drink,” she wrote, adding that contractors do not even provide workers with drinking cups. She said that a friend of hers, also a farmworker, died from heat exhaustion.

A postal worker described “callous treatment of employees working in the heat.” The commenter described working in a warehouse so hot that, “industrial crayons we used to mark the packages all melted.” A former restaurant worker recounted “countless hours in unbearably hot kitchens” with broken thermostats. “There were many days I thought I might pass out,” she wrote.

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