Schwarzenegger Announces Emergency Rules To Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat-Related Illnesses
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday at a Capitol news conference announced a bipartisan agreement on emergency regulations to protect outdoor workers from heat-related illnesses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/3).
Under the rules, employers would be required to train supervisors to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Workers also would have access to shade for at least a five-minute "recovery time" if they experience symptoms of heat stroke, including headache, muscle cramps, vomiting and weakness.
Sources of shade may include umbrellas or a canopy, or workers can sit in a car with the air conditioner running. The new regulations "for the first time" specify that employers must provide a quart of water for every employee each hour they work, the Los Angeles Times reports. Current California health regulations require employers to provide water to farmworkers but do not specify an amount.
Employers who refuse to comply with the regulations would be cited by California labor inspectors and charged with a criminal offense if they willfully violate the law.
The proposed emergency regulations mark the first significant laws that would protect farmworkers, construction crews, roofers, landscapers and others from heat-related illnesses and death (Salladay/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 8/3).
Schwarzenegger is scheduled to submit the emergency regulations to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, which will meet Aug. 12 to consider them. If approved, the laws would be enacted immediately. According to the administration, labor inspectors would monitor farms to ensure they are in compliance with the laws (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).
The regulations were endorsed by the United Farm Workers -- a farm labor union -- and the Western Growers Association and the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, which represent farm employers (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/3).