MODESTO — The state is reminding farmers and other outdoor employers of rules to protect workers from heat.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health plans meetings in the Modesto area and elsewhere to prepare for the warm months ahead.
The rules are not just for heat waves. The requirement for a shaded rest area, for example, kicks in when the temperature reaches 85 degrees.
The agency, better known as Cal-OSHA, requires employers to:
Provide each worker at least one quart of cool, fresh water per hour
Allow each worker at least five minutes of rest in a shaded area per hour. This is on top of the standard half-hour break for lunch and 10-minute break for every four hours worked.
Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention
Prepare an emergency plan for the worksite, including the steps to take if a worker shows signs of heat illness
Allow time for workers to acclimate themselves to the conditions. This could apply, for example, to a new employee on the site or to all workers during a heat wave.
"California is a better place to work because of our standards and partnerships with employers and labor to protect all outdoor workers from heat illness," said Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal-OSHA.
The rules apply to workers in farming, landscaping, construction and other outdoor jobs. They aim to prevent problems that range from heat exhaustion, which brings fatigue and nausea, to heat stroke, which can kill if not treated quickly.
The state adopted the standards after 10 heat-related deaths four of them farmworkers in a two-month period in 2005.
Farmworker advocates say the rules have not been strongly enforced. They cite the 2008 death of Maria Isavel Vasquez Jimenez, 17, two days after she was overcome by heat in a vineyard near Farmington.
Farm groups say the rules are adequate. They welcomed Gov. Jerry Brown's veto last year of a bill that would have toughened them.
The state launched the latest publicity effort with help from the Nisei Farmers League and other employer groups. It includes messages in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Hmong and two indigenous Mexican languages.
A pair of April 24 meetings near Modesto will provide information on the heat rules for outdoor workers.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon in Spanish, 1 to 3 p.m. in English
WHERE: Harvest Hall, Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, off Crows Landing Road
MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.dir.ca.gov/dosh or call (800) 963-9424 for details on heat illness prevention.