IR #2006-26
Friday, July 21, 2006

Dean Fryer

Cal/OSHA investigates first possible heat illness fatality

Sacramento - Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Victoria Bradshaw announced today that Cal/OSHA is investigating the first possible heat illness related fatality of 2006. Joaquin Ramirez, a 38 year old employee of Raul Hidalgo Lawn Services in Bakersfield, died Wednesday night after being on the job for only three days.

"We are fully committed to vigorously pursuing investigations of violations of the emergency heat illness prevention regulations throughout the state," said Secretary Victoria Bradshaw. "If we find that there were violations of these regulations, we will use every means at our disposal to hold those responsible accountable. Governor Schwarzenegger worked with leaders from the labor, business and healthcare industries to develop these health and safety regulations and we intend to make sure they are enforced to protect all of California's outdoor workers."

Both employers and employees need to keep in mind the necessary precautions needed when working in high temperatures. Employers must provide ample drinking water and encourage workers to drink frequently, provide shade for breaks and watch closely for signs of heat stress including confusion, dizziness and headaches. Employees need to remember that alcohol and medication, such as blood pressure medication, can put workers at risk. Health professionals advise outdoor workers to drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty. Seek shade and tell your employer if you are feeling ill. New employees need to allow their bodies time to adjust to the extreme temperatures.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership, heat illness prevention regulations were put into place in August 2005 on an emergency basis to try to minimize heat related fatalities. Permanent regulations governing heat illness prevention should be finalized soon and will establish the nation's first mandatory precautions designed to protect outdoor workers from heat related illness and death. The emergency heat illness prevention regulations, currently in place until the permanent ones are finalized, can be seen at