Five Labor Contractors Shut Down for Heat Violations

The companies did not provide shade or water as required by California's regulations, authorities said May 21.

Enforcement of California's heat illness prevention regulations is in full swing in that state, with actions taken against several labor contractors and a three-day enforcement sweep conducted by the Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition. On May 21, EEEC said five farm labor contractors have been shut down for violations of the regulations; four of the contractors provided no shade for workers and one had less than a gallon of water for 15 employees working in temperatures as high as 116 degrees, the agency said.

"Our enforcement tools include the Order to Prohibit Use, which is used to stop employers when employees are exposed to an eminent hazard," said EEEC Director David Dorame. "We will take action against employers who put the safety of workers in jeopardy during times of high temperatures by stopping their operations until they can prove their ability to safeguard workers."

Investigators found four contractors with work crews in the Coachella, Calif. area working in temperatures above 100 degrees with no shade, "putting workers at risk of serious illness due to exposure to the sun," according to the agency's news release. The other contractor's crew was near Escondido, working in a temperature of 116 degrees.

Given an Order to Prohibit Use were Galvan Brothers Inc. of Mecca, Valley Pride of Coachella, Young's Nursery of Thermal, Salvador Alvarado of Coachella, and Joel Salazar Farm Labor of Escondido. EEEC said the California Labor Commissioner is investigating the licensing status of the five employers.

Cal/OSHA has issued eight OPUs for heat violations so far this year, five more than it issued last year.

EEEC, in partnership with the state's Department of Industrial Relations, has increased training on heat illness prevention and trained more than 4,000 agricultural employers across the state in 2009. More than 850 heat inspections and more than 250 citations for violations have been issued since January 2009.

For more information about EEEC, visit this site. For information about heat illness prevention and training materials, visit this page.

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