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Heat Illness by Year in California

8 Jun

Heat Illness by Year in Califonria

2012 is reported to be the warmest year on record, according to the Weather Service. In California already this spring, two worker deaths could be attributable to heat illness. And summer is still about two weeks away.

In all of 2011, there were two confirmed heat-related fatalities. There also were two in 2010, Cal/OSHA says they are placing their “highest priority” on heat illness prevention. DIR Director Christine Baker said on a June conference call that many employers are complying with the Cal/OSHA rules designed to prevent heat illness, but the agency has seen evidence that other employers “are still not providing basic protections to workers.”

Cal/OSHA is partnering with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and the Labor Enforcement Task Force will target both agriculture and construction.

The latest suspected heat illness cases involved construction and agricultural workers. On June 1 in Coalinga, a 56-year-old farm worker collapsed while pruning suckers from pomegranate trees in high-heat conditions. Emergency responders were summoned but he died at a local medical center. The worker was an employee of Temp Handbody Farm Labor Service of Riverdale, according to the Department of Industrial Relations.

The other case was May 9, when an 18-year-old masonry worker in Friant collapsed while cleaning up for the day in 96°F heat. He was driven to a medical center and subsequently died at the facility. He was employed by Friant Masonry.

The cases are still under investigation and have not been confirmed as heat-related. Widess said about heat illness, “These illnesses and deaths are completely preventable, and by simple means.”

Occupational Safety & Health Region II Manager Bill Krycia, the Division’s point man on agriculture, said Cal/OSHA plans to target landscaping for outreach and enforcement this year, Cal/OSHA issued four Orders Prohibiting Use in heat illness cases last year and one so far in 2012 (for lack of shade and no emergency response procedures).

Contact Don Dressler by email: dondressler1@hotmail.com to request more information.

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