Heat Illness Prevention Outreach And Enforcement Intensify In 2008, California / OSHA Statistics Show


San Francisco, CA  (CompNewsNetwork) - California / OSHA announced that outreach and education events aimed at protecting workers from heat illness have increased over the first six months of this year as has enforcement of the nation’s first heat illness prevention regulations, according to figures released by the Department of Industrial Relation’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OHSA).

Cal/OSHA has conducted 380 heat illness seminars so far this year compared to 284 for all of 2007. Cal/OSHA is also on pace to exceed the number of heat illness prevention inspections, with 659 heat-related inspections to date in 2008 compared to 1,018 for all of 2007.

“We are working with the agricultural industry to make sure all their supervisors and employees are properly trained to recognize the symptoms of heat illness and how to respond to it,” said Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA), which oversees the Department of Industrial Relations. “At the same time, our inspectors are out in the fields working diligently to enforce the training, water and shade required in heat illness regulations

Cal/OSHA has issued more than 242 citations since the summer began, primarily for failing to have written heat illness prevention plans. During heat waves, special compliance teams are dispatched to outdoor work sites to ensure workers are being properly protected.

LWDA and the Department of Industrial Relations are working with the Attorney General and local District Attorneys to build criminal cases against employers who disregard the law. and the DIR’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will pursue license revocation where necessary. Cal/OSHA inspectors have issued two stop-work orders to employers this year for continued failure to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

In addition to the enforcement activities, Cal/OSHA has conducted heat illness seminars, on-site consultations and outreach events throughout the state. Growers and Cal/OSHA are also jointly hosting supplemental heat illness training sessions for farm labor contractors that run through August 7 statewide.

“Our increased enforcement and outreach efforts demonstrate the commitment we have to ensuring protections for California workers,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “In addition, the establishment of partnerships with industry and employee organizations allows us to expand our reach to educate more employers and employees than in previous years. In this regard, California once again leads the way”

On June 9, The Labor and Workforce Development Agency sent letters to all 106,261 California employers with outdoor operations reminding them of their responsibilities under the heat illness regulations. Four-page newsletters on heat illness in English and Spanish were enclosed.

“Letters distributed to employers in outdoor environments put them on notice that they need to be in compliance,” added Secretary Bradshaw. “These letters support the ongoing public awareness that has occurred to let employers know that we take seriously the protections required for employees and will enforce to ensure that they are provided.”

DIR has added a heat illness component to its toll-free 1-866-924-9757 worker hotline that provides information to employees on labor laws, workplace safety, and workers’ compensation to name a few.

LWDA and DIR’s ongoing heat illness prevention media campaign has:

  • Direct mailed heat illness prevention messages to TV meteorologists statewide
  • Conducted more than 60 media interviews about heat illness in multiple languages
  • Distributed a series of heat illness prevention public service announcements to radio stations statewide in seven languages
  • Hosted heat illness prevention conference calls to employers statewide
  • DIR is also partnering with the Catholic Diocese of Fresno to conduct outreach workshops for agricultural workers.

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