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Preventing workplace injuries and heat-related illness

Workplace injuries come in many forms, and during the hot months of the year, these injuries can be related to the extreme heat that is seen in many parts of the country. For California workers who are exposed to the heat during work hours, it is vitally important to know how to stay safe to prevent heat-related illness. Workplace injuries of this kind can be prevented by safety practices that should be implemented by employers.

Because of the risk associated with working in the extreme heat, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggested new rules to protect workers. These changes would mainly affect the agriculture industry in California. Some of these changes include providing fresh water within 400 feet of every worker, shade must be provided in certain temperatures and workers should get a certain amount of time to rest from the heat. Leaders in the agriculture industry say that these changes are not necessary and that it would cause their costs as employers to greatly increase.

Cal/OSHA must prove that these changes are necessary before they will be approved and passed to farmers for implementation. While some argue that the current heat safety standards in the state are adequate, in 2012 there were three heat-related deaths and four in 2013. It should be noted that other industries involving outdoor work also have concerns about raising costs.

No matter what laws are passed by Cal/OSHA, employers always have the responsibility to help prevent workplace injuries. Safety practices are especially important during the hot months of the year. All employees would benefit from being offered the opportunity to recover after working in the heat and are encouraged to know their rights while working in these conditions. Those who are injured while on the job may have the right to file for workers' compensation benefits to help cover their medical and other related expenses.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian, "Ag takes heat for proposed rules on outdoor work", Henry A. Barrios, Aug. 23, 2014

Source: The Bakersfield Californian, "Ag takes heat for proposed rules on outdoor work", Henry A. Barrios, Aug. 23, 2014

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