DALLAS – To prevent the dangers of heat illness as summer heat descends on the Southwest’s farmworkers, the U.S. Department of Labor is taking immediate measures to raise awareness of the hazards faced by those working to maintain the nation’s food supply.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division has launched “Operation Beat the Heat,” a coordinated education, outreach and enforcement effort to protect the Southwest’s migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. Using a data-focused targeted approach, the division seeks to ensure farmworkers and their advocates understand the risks that heat injuries present, and provides guidance on how to file a complaint to report possible violations.
The effort also focuses on educating growers, farm labor contractors, other agricultural employers and industry stakeholders to promote greater understanding of their responsibilities to prevent heat-related injuries and to encourage them to contact the division when questions arise.
“The pandemic showed all of us the vital contributions of the nation’s farmworkers. In turn, we must ensure that these hard-working people are treated with dignity and that we honor them by ensuring their health and well-being,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Betty Campbell in Dallas. “Operation Beat the Heat seeks to remind farmworkers and the industry in which they work of the dangers of outdoor work, especially when summer temperatures soar, and of the Department of Labor’s expectation that industry employers pay these workers every dollar they’ve earned in return for their labor.”
The effort also includes a greater focus on enforcement to reduce the number of industry violations. Since 2019, the Wage and Hour Division has conducted more than 2,659 agricultural industry investigations and cited more than 100 employers for violations related to heat-related illnesses or injuries. The division also assessed industry employers with more than $20.1 million in civil money penalties for the nature of their violations.