New Workplace Rules Drive Drop in Heat-Related Deaths
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health increased the number of heat-related job safety inspections it conducted in 2007, and the number of deaths due to excessive heat has dropped dramatically, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The safety agency through Sept. 17 had conducted 355 heat-related inspections this year, compared with 180 for 2006 and 37 in 2005 when the heat regulations were instituted on an emergency basis.
Of the 355 inspections this year, 128 employers, or 36%, did not comply with the standards -- a dramatic decrease from the 88% noncompliance rate in 2006.
Only one California worker has died in 2007 as a result of excessive heat, whereas eight died in 2006 and 12 in 2005, the Bee reports.
The permanent rules for inspections, put into effect last year, require:
- Employers to provide one quart of water per employee per shift;
- Shaded areas for workers;
- Five-minute breaks for workers to cool down; and
- A written program on how to train supervisors and employees.
Most of this year's inspections were in the construction and agriculture industries. The increased enforcement through Sept. 17 has resulted in $517,810 in penalties assessed, which is expected to surpass last year's $545,040 in penalties.
Despite the numbers, the United Farm Workers union on Sept. 11 sent 60 complaints to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) alleging that agricultural employers are not complying with the regulations (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 9/24). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.