During this time of year, the heat can be as dangerous as any machine or tool used in any workplace. Without proper training, awareness or access to help, a work injury can lead to death when excessive heat is a factor. For one California farm, an order to stop operations has resulted from the death of a worker that may be due to the heat and lack of proper procedure.
The incident follows other similar work related deaths that may be attributed to the heat also. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration shut the farm down. They contend that workers are at risk and employers at the farm did not follow heat illness prevention standards that are in place to protect outdoor farm workers.
As part of the existing regulations, employers must provide shade areas for outdoor workers. They must also have training pertaining to heat related illnesses and emergency procedures to help protect their work force. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses are also part of that training. The farm has to prove they are current and executing these standards before they can reopen.
While some incidents of illness cannot be prevented or avoided at all workplaces, standards exist to protect workers who are exposed to high temperatures as part of their job. When a work injury leads to death, including death resulting from prolonged exposure to heat, employees and their families are entitled to benefits as per California law. Those benefits may be needed so the family left behind can deal with medical expenses, lost wages or funeral costs.
Source: Source: cbs47.tv, “OSHA shuts down farm in South Valley,” Lemor Abrams, July 10, 2013