FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2010-21
July 14, 2010

CONTACT:
Krisann Chasarik
Erika Monterroza
415-703-5050

Internet: www.dir.ca.gov


Cal/OSHA Prohibits Farm Laborers from Working at Two Sites
Employers put workers at risk when not providing adequate protection from the heat

Oakland—July 14, 2010 With many regions of the state hitting triple-digit temperatures, Cal/OSHA urges employers to make sure they are in full compliance with the heat illness prevention standard.  Enforcement efforts on Tuesday resulted in the halting of two farming operations with outdoor workers at sites near Winchester. Operations at Rheingans Farms and Greenfield Inc, were shut down because of their workers were exposed to high heat under circumstances where major violations of the heat illness prevention standard existed.  These employers can resume their operations only after Cal/OSHA determines that they have implemented all of the protective measures required by California’s heat illness prevention standard.

“For employees working outdoors, exposure to high temperatures without basic protective measures like water, shade breaks, training, and emergency preparedness can be life threatening.  We will not hesitate to stop an employer’s operations when we find this kind of situation,” said Len Welsh, Chief of Cal/OSHA. “Whenever temperatures are rising into the 90’s and 100’s, as they have been this week, employers need to make sure they are covering all the bases when it comes to heat illness prevention. 

At Rheingans Farms, temperatures were in the 90’s by noon. Investigators stopped there and found employees working in a field without access to shade.  The employer had provided no water and employees had to bring their own or go without.  The employer had no heat illness prevention program and no provision for how to respond in the event an employee became ill from the heat. 

At the Greenfield worksite investigators found employees working in a vegetable field and measured the temperature to be 98 degrees. The employer had no shade, no heat illness prevention program, no training, and no emergency procedures.

Each of these employers was issued An Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) to halt their operations until they come into full compliance with the heat illness prevention standard.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s leadership, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation addressing heat illness in 2005. Cal/OSHA issued permanent heat illness prevention regulations to protect outdoor workers in 2006.

For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://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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