Many farmworkers in the Midwest are unprotected against heat-related illnesses. They are 35 times more likely to die from heat exposure than workers in other sectors, according to the National Institutes of Health. The absence of a federal heat regulation that guarantees their safety and life increases that risk.
Over a six-year period, 121 workers lost their lives due to exposure to severe environmental heat. One-fifth of these fatalities were individuals employed in the agricultural sector, according to an Investigate Midwest analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data.
Although employers are generally responsible for ensuring a safe working environment that protects their employees’ well-being and lives, no federal regulation stipulates a specific temperature threshold that mandates protective measures.