Cal/OSHA Launches Heat Illness Prevention Training Program

The training will provide information about employers’ responsibilities under California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard and will explain changes made to the regulation last August that are now in effect.

Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League, and 23 other agricultural organizations are teaming up for this year’s “Heat Illness Prevention in Agriculture” training events. The free sessions began this week in Fresno, Calif., and will continue throughout the spring and summer at locations across the state. The goal is to reduce heat- related fatalities and gain a greater level of compliance in the agriculture community through training programs for growers, farm labor contractors, and supervisors.

The training will provide information about employers’ responsibilities under California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard and will explain changes made to the regulation last August that are now in effect.

Cal/OSHA said its outreach, education, and enforcement has led to a measurable increase in the number of employers who are complying with the regulations, up from 35 percent in 2006, to 76 percent in 2010. As a result, heat- related deaths have declined from 12 in 2005 to two last year.

John C. Duncan, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA, said the heat illness prevention outreach effort is one of the most successful safety education efforts in Cal/OSHA’s history.

“It is clear that our heat illness training and enforcement efforts are saving lives and resulting in increased compliance among employers,” Duncan said. “Our efforts thus far have laid the groundwork to carry this training initiative forward and to expand this type of collaboration into other industries. These efforts will continue until we reach everyone who works out in the fields, on construction sites, anywhere out in the elements.”

Cal/OSHA and its partners in agriculture conducted more than two dozen heat illness prevention training seminars in California last year. Some 1,600 agriculture employers and supervisors attended the training events that are held in both English and Spanish. Those employers passed the information on to an estimated 400,000 workers.

“Every year since we have been offering this training, we find more farm supervisors and labor contractors complying with heat illness regulations. More employers are giving the provision to workers of water, shade, and training the full attention it needs,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “There is no doubt this outreach effort is having a positive impact, but we still have work to do in order to reach our goal of making worker safety and health have the prominence in workplace culture that we all want to see.”

In 2005, California became the first state to develop a safety and health regulation to protect workers from heat illness.

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