Workplace Heat: Two Companies Feel the Heat after the Death of an Employee

June 13, 2008 7:13:07 PM PDT
As farm workers toil in the hot sun, two companies linked to the death of a 17-year old pregnant farm worker are feeling the heat from the state. The teen's employer, Merced Farm Labor, and Solis Farm Labor Contracting had workers in the fields near Farmington when she died in 100 degree heat. Cal OSHA has now shutdown both companies until they can prove they're keeping workers safe.

OSHA Spokesman Dean Fryer said: "when we have extraordinary situations like this we've got to use the tools that we have available this is one, we can use to protect the workers outdoors." Farm workers protested after investigators discovered it took more than an hour to get Maria Imenez to the hospital.

Mapping out emergency routes was among the topics at this OSHA seminar in Fresno on preventing heat related illness. Borba Farms Supervisor: "how do you tell somebody on 911 where you're at, we've gone over that in safety meetings I pick the guy out and say if you're in this field how do you tell me how to get there." With thousands of acres to watch over, supervisors at Borba Farms say they take heat very seriously. When temperatures soar above 100, the state says every worker needs to drink 1 to 2 quarters of water every hour to avoid getting sick.'" That's why Borba Farms has given workers their own two gallon jugs. Supervisors also carry water and portable shade. One of the valley's biggest farm labor contractors says when it comes to preventing heat related illness education is key.

Sunrise Labor Co-owner Chuck Herrin said: "It's an ongoing process. It's important that everyday we talk with our supervisors, our crew bosses really keep an eye on our people, make them aware." Awareness that OSHA says is key with recent inspections finding access to shade and water still a problem.


Load Comments