A “NO Vote” on AB 2346 Heat Illness – A Job Killer of a Proposal

25 Jul

This August, the California State Senate is considering AB 2346- a JOB KILLER bill regarding heat illness. The bill goes beyond current heat illness regulations to impose the following obligations, but only on agricultural employers, not on construction, landscaping or any other out of doors work:

  1. Each employee shall have continuous, ready access, as
    close as possible and at a distance of no more than 10 feet from
    where he or she is working, to fresh, pure, and suitably cool potable
    drinking water
  2. “The temperature of the water shall be 70 degrees or lower at all times.”
  3. “Shaded area shall be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working, and in no event shall be at a distance greater than 200 feet away from any employee.
  4. The amount of shade provided shall be enough to accommodate all of the employees on the shift at any time

These proposals may start off sounding fine, however – current rules require water to be accessible to agricultural employees and within 1/4th mile or 1,320 feet. Tem (10) feet is an impossible burden, unless the workers are asked to personally carry 10 pounds or more of several gallons of water – does this make any sense at all? Also, current laws require the water to be “fresh and pure, suitable cool”. But – does it really make sense to write a law requiring 70 degrees – all the time? Does this mean in addition to carrying water, the workers have to also carry ice?

How about shade? Current law requires shade to be no more than 1/4 mile – or 1320 feet. Has any looked at the open fields where strawberries or cantaloupe are grown. How do you put shade every 200 feet? And what about the requirement of shade for “all” of the employees?

Current Cal/OSHA regulations requires, “The amount of shade present shall be at least enough to accommodate 25% of the employees on the shift at any time, so that they can sit in a normal posture fully in the shade without having to be in physical contact with each other.”

And why is “enough for 25%” chosen? Because of the “acclimatization” factor regarding heat tolerance and heat illness. First, the data is quite clear, while dangerous, in California agriculture, particularly since 2005, heat illness have been few and controlled. And what heat illness have occurred were on the first days on the job, which are the highest danger! Almost 50% of reported heat illnesses occur on the 1st day of work. 80% of illnesses within 1st 4 days of work. It is over legislation of the worst kind, and job killing to require shade for 100% of workers on a shift – without any justification.

There are other provisions, fines, threats of lawsuits, etc. contained in AB 2346.

I recommend you go to www.leginfo.ca.gov for a complete copy of the bill, etc. Then I hope you will join in asking the California State Senate to kill this bad bill and Job Killer legislation.

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