FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2008-36
June 13, 2008

CONTACT:
Kate McGuire
Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050
Internet: www.dir.ca.gov


State Officials Issue Order to Prohibit Galt-based Farm Labor Contractor from Operating

San Francisco, CA — The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) today issued an order prohibiting Solis Farm Labor Contractor from operating in the fields because of the companyís failure to comply with heat illness regulations, which poses a substantial threat to worker safety as temperatures rise across the state.

“We are actively pursuing employers who fail to meet our heat illness standards and as we did with Merced Farm Labor yesterday, we are taking this step to ensure that workers employed by this company are not put at risk,” said DIR Director John Duncan. “We have evidence to suggest that this company has failed to train its employees and this order will be in force until the company is in full compliance with California heat illness prevention regulations.”

Along with Merced Farm Labor, Solis Farm Labor Contractor was an employer at the Farmington vineyard where Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, a 17-year-old farmworker, became ill and later died after working in high heat without water or shade. Solis Farm Labor Contractor was identified in the course of the investigation into working conditions at the vineyard where Vasquez Jimenez was employed.

California law requires outdoor employers to train supervisors and employees about the symptoms of heat illness, have an emergency medical assistance plan and provide shade and water to workers.

In the ongoing investigation of the Vasquez Jimenez case, investigators uncovered evidence that leads them to suspect that Solis Farm Labor Contractor may be continuing to hire and place workers in unsafe and unhealthful working conditions, and as a result issued the Order to Prohibit Use as a precaution.

In an enforcement sweep of more than 25 agricultural work sites in San Joaquin County last week investigators found numerous violations including 10 employers without illness and injury prevention plans and 20 violations of the heat illness prevention standard. Similar sweeps of outdoor workplaces are conducted daily in most California counties with special teams dispersed when temperatures rise to 100 degrees or more, or when the Governorís Office of Emergency Services State Warning Center issues a heat wave alert.

The DIRís Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. The DIRís Division of Occupational Safety & Health, Cal/OSHA, protects workers and the public from safety hazards through its Cal/OSHA, elevator, amusement ride, aerial tramway, ski lift and pressure vessel programs.

To learn more about the functions of the DIR, DLSE and Cal/OSHA, visit our web site at www.dir.ca.gov. Employees that have work-related questions or complaints can call the California Workersí Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.

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