Heat risks for outside workers
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Central Valley and much of the state is baking under a brutal heat wave.
The situation much the same around the state.
Despite searing temperatures, work must still get done through this heat wave, particularly in California's agriculture fields. Armed with thermometers, Cal Ohsa said inspectors will be fanning farmlands making sure employers abide by the nation's first and toughest heat regulations to keep outdoor workers safe.
"And if we find those employers, we can take, in addition to the issuance of citations, we can shut those job sites down. We're prepared to do that," said Bill Krycia from Calosha.
In regulations implemented by then governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 after he became he became aware of the heat fatality rate for outdoor workers, employers must provide water and breaks. In addition shade must be available when an employee asks for it, and someone must be trained to look for signs of heat stress.
Cal Osha has done an extensive education campaign to make sure companies know the law.
"Once you start feeling these symptoms, it can escalate rapidly into heat stroke and death," said Krycia
"The laws on the books are not the laws in the fields," said Marc Grossman of United Farm Workers.
The United Farm Workers of America says better enforcement of the heat regulations is needed.
"In the summer of 2011, UFW filed 75 complaints on behalf of farm workers who were denied shade. In only 3 cases did cal Osha issue citations," said Grossman.
Even with the heat regulations in place for 8 years, UFW says at least two dozen farmer workers have died from the heat. Admittedly, Cal Osha said like other state agencies, it has had resource challenges, but insists its enforcers are very aggressive.
farm, heat wave, state, nannette miranda
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