FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2009-03
March 18, 2009

CONTACT:
Dean Fryer
Erika Monterroza
415-703-5050

Internet: www.dir.ca.gov


DIR partners with Ag Industry to Launch 2009 Heat Illness Prevention Training

FresnoMarch 18—The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its partners in the agriculture community are conducting a series of critical heat illness prevention seminars to train and prepare growers and farm labor contractors (FLCs) for the upcoming summer months today in Fresno at CPDES Hall at 8 a.m.

“Many heat illness injuries are preventable,” said Doug Hoffner, Acting Secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. “We applaud the members of the agricultural industry in taking a very thorough and assertive approach to implement this safety program and expand it to growers. This has been Governor Schwarzenegger’s vision but it requires the cooperation of all to make the vision a reality.”

More than 4,000 growers (employing over 100,000 workers) and 1,000 FLCs (employing 300,000 workers) are expected to attend trainings throughout the summer, according to the Nisei Farmers League.

The program will encompass the four elements of the heat illness prevention program which include:

Each training program will teach the importance of heat illness prevention and make sure all attendees understand the potentially fatal consequences of not following the program.

“We fully support this training effort which proved to be successful last year,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “This year we anticipate making even more of an impact in preventing heat illness injuries and fatalities in the agriculture community as we build and expand on last year’s successful efforts.”

While the first seminar of the series will take place in Fresno, subsequent training seminars will be held at various locations through August.  A full schedule of sessions will be posted on the DIR Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness today.

Employers are cited most often for failing to have written heat illness procedures, followed by failure to train employees and supervisors about the symptoms of heat illness, Cal/OSHA enforcement statistics show.

Enforcement increased 119% in 2008 with a total of $1,691,972 in penalties assessed statewide for violations of the heat illness prevention standard, compared to $822,990 in total penalties assessed for the same violations in 2007.

Last year, 868 participants took part in these events, including 389 FLCs that employ 205,897 workers. The remaining participants included other members of the FLC’s team as well as representatives from the insurance, roofing, nursery, and safety industries. Sessions are very interactive and allow for effective dialogue between the FLCs and the trainers.

With the complete support of Governor Schwarzenegger, in 2005 California became the first state to develop a safety and health regulation to address heat illness.

For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials, visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.

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