As summer approaches, Cal/OSHA warns about heat illnesses

Spring has come to California, which means that summer is around the corner. Thousands of people will soon be working in the hot sun, in 90-plus degree temperatures, as farm laborers, construction workers and so on. Unfortunately, working in the heat without taking certain precautions can cause serious work illness.

That is why Cal/OSHA is working to educate workers and employers about heat safety. The work safety agency has launched its 2013 Heat Illness Prevention Program. It held its first event of the year on April 4 in Easton. In front of more than 650 workers, Cal/OSHA officials provided information about heat stroke and how to prevent it. They also passed out brochures explaining heat stroke and workers' rights under the law.

Heat stroke, which is caused by overexposure to the sun, is a serious problem for outdoor workers. Symptoms can include elevated body temperature, headache, inability to sweat and nausea. While no workers died of heat stroke in 2012, two agricultural laborers died in 2011. Also, there were 48 heat-related illnesses last year, 15 of whom worked in agriculture.

Cal/OSHA is hoping to prevent any more deaths. The program emphasized vigilant maintenance of heat safety standards. It is co-sponsored by the agricultural industry, including the California Grape & Treefruit League and the Department of Industrial Relations. Hopefully, all employers will take heat stroke seriously this summer and do everything possible to prevent any of their workers from being sickened. Among the ways employers can reduce heatstroke is to provide regular shade and water breaks.

Source: The Business Journal, "Heat training attracts 500 workers in Easton," April 4, 2013

ยท To learn more about illnesses and other form of work injury, please visit our Orange County workers' compensation page.

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