FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Cal/OSHA investigates third possible heat illness fatality
Sacramento - Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Victoria Bradshaw announced today that Cal/OSHA is actively investigating the third possible heat illness related fatality of 2006. Alfonso Guitierrez, a 67 year old employee of MJ's Pizza in Santa Rosa, died yesterday while delivering pizza. He was found parked in his car when a passerby called 911.
"It's unfortunate that we've just experienced another loss," said Secretary Victoria Bradshaw. "During this current extraordinary heat wave, we cannot operate as if it's business as usual. Both employers and employees need to take the necessary precautions when working in high temperatures. At the same time, we are fully committed to vigorously pursuing investigations of violations of the emergency heat illness prevention regulations throughout the state."
The regulations spell out that 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, drinks containing sugar, 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.
"If we find that there were violations
of these regulations, we will use every means at our disposal to hold those
responsible accountable," added Bradshaw. 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."
Cal/OSHA continues to work with employer groups and workers educating both on heat illness prevention.
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 www.dir.ca.gov.