Heat Laws Lacking For North Carolina Farmworkers

North Carolina doesn't have laws designed to protect farmworkers from heat illnesses, unlike other states that also rely heavily on the largely foreign work force.

State officials say there were six heat-related deaths among the estimated 200-thousand farm workers who came to North Carolina in 2005 and 2006.

Five heat-related deaths two years ago in California led to a new state law. Outdoor workers in California are now guaranteed one quart of water each hour, training to recognize heat stroke symptoms, shade and breaks.

Washington state adopted similar laws after one death in 2005. Many of the workers come from the world's poorest areas. Farm worker advocates say the workers' desperation to feed their families and an inability to speak English make them more likely to work themselves to death.