Keeping workers safe from heat illness

FRESNO, Calif.

Cal/OSHA inspectors have been checking local farms and construction sites to make sure employers are keeping workers safe from heat illness.

For those who toil in the hot sun backfilling dirt and fixing roads it is important they watch out for each other. Crew foreman Raymond Uribe explained, "Especially when you're putting down the hot stuff, the asphalt and stuff you really have to be careful. Just have to stay hydrated and work together."

Jerry Walker is the district manager for Cal/OSHA enforcement. He said state inspectors have set out to check farms and construction sites to make sure employers are providing cold water to drink and access to shade. Walker said, "Frequently what we find out, employers really don't become believers until something happens, like for instance someone becomes seriously ill or dies and that's what we're trying to prevent."

Walker said recent sweeps showed most farms are in compliance. A shade structure provided by Hall farm labor management offered water, a bathroom and a place to sit.

Albert Laguna of Hall farm labor management said, "We encourage everybody to use the shade when necessary. If they feel they need rest we encourage they rest. We encourage them to drink water."

A quart of water must be available each hour for employees who work in the sun. Cal/OSHA also checks to see if supervisors have undergone heat illness prevention training. Laguna said, "We have to know the symptoms of heat illness and heat stroke and then procedures to follow after that."

Walker added, "It's very critical that employees know what to do when someone becomes ill from heat because the first several minutes are very crucial in getting treatment for the employees."

Walker said Cal/OSHA will shut down businesses which don't provide shade or water once it hits 95 degrees.

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