Lawsuit Settlement Boosts Enforcement of Heat Illness Prevention Standards

California OSHA has reached a settlement in two lawsuits, filed in 2009 and 2012, alleging failures to protect farm workers from heat illness and death. The lawsuits were filed against Cal/OSHA by individual farm workers, the United Farm Workers, and the UFW Foundation.

Cal/OSHA and the United Farm Workers recently reached an amicable settlement of the Bautista lawsuit, which includes provisions for us to work cooperatively in addressing heat illness prevention at outdoor worksites throughout the state, according to al/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “That spirit of cooperation is strengthening and expanding Cal/OSHA’s enforcement and outreach efforts which have been ongoing since the heat illness prevention standard was made permanent in 2006.

How can heat illness be prevented?

Employers should establish a complete heat illness prevention program to prevent heat illness. This includes: provide workers with water, rest and shade; gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away for a week or more to build a tolerance for working in the heat(acclimatization); modify work schedules as necessary; plan for emergencies and train workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention; and monitor workers for signs of illness. Workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work and are returning can be most vulnerable to heat stress and they must be acclimatized.

For more details on OSHA’s campaign to prevent heat illness, click here.