What is in this article?:
- Citations were issued against two California farm labor contractors following investigations into the heat illness of two employees this past summer, one of which resulted in the first confirmed heat related death of 2011.
- Cal/OSHA issued citations to both farm labor contractors, C. Clunn Consulting of Holtville and AgPrime Corp. of Los Banos, for violations of California's first-in-the nation heat illness prevention standard.
In the second case, a 16 year old farmworker employed by AgPrime Corp. was picking bell peppers with his guardians in a field southwest of Bakersfield on July 6, 2011, when he became ill with heat illness symptoms. The temperature in the field had reached 105 degrees that evening when the crew began work. The supervisor noted the worker's illness, but did not seek medical assistance. The young farmworker later recovered from his illness.
Cal/OSHA's investigation found that AgPrime did not provide adequate water, shade, rest breaks, or first aid kits at the worksite and did not train new employees or supervisors as required to identify and treat the symptoms of heat illness. Also, Ag Prime had no procedures to protect employees working in high heat conditions or summon emergency medical help if needed.
Citations issued to AgPrime Corp include six serious and one general violation with a total penalty of $61,425.
Cal/OSHA referred this case to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) due to the age of the young affected farmworker and the circumstances that led to the injured worker and his guardians' separation of employment from AgPrime. DLSE issued two citations of $500 each to AgPrime for child labor violations – one for failure to maintain a permit and the second for working outside of the permitted hours for a minor. The investigation further recovered wages totaling $500 for the 16 year old and his guardians. Subsequent wage claims and retaliation claims filed by the three were resolved by settlement, resulting in an additional payment of $400 to each claimant.
For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials, please visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness. Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, may call the California Workers' Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757. Cal/OSHA's Consultation Unit provides free information and training on occupational safety and health hazards and ways to protect workers from these hazards.