Law Enforcement, Litigation, OSHA, Regulations & Compliance, Working Conditions

Cal-OSHA Cites, Fines Company for Farmworker Death

From SacBee.com, The Sacramento Bee, Associated Press, 11 Jan 2012.

OAKLAND, Calif. — California workplace regulators have fined a labor contracting company $74,125 in the death of a farmworker last summer.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal-OSHA, said Wednesday that it issued the citation and penalty to Holtville-based C. Clunn Consulting after the death of Romero Vasquez on July 7.

Cal-OSHA officials said Vasquez, 47, was loading 40-pound boxes at a cantaloupe field in Blythe when he collapsed in 102-degree heat. He died after being taken to a hospital.

“Heat illness is totally preventable and should not occur if proper procedures are followed. We take any heat-related incident seriously and enforce our standard to the fullest extent possible,” Cal-OSHA Chief Ellen Widess said in a statement.

California introduced the first heat regulations in the nation in 2005 to protect the state’s 450,000 seasonal farm workers.

The agency said the company violated state regulations by failing to provide employees or supervisors with training on how to identify and treat symptoms of heat illness.

Cal-OSHA said C. Clunn also failed to enforce its own heat prevention rules, which included having emergency medical procedures in place to safeguard workers from heat illness.

The agency also cited and issued a penalty of $61,425 to Los Banos-based AgPrime Corp. after a 16-year-old farmworker became ill with heat illness symptoms as he picked bell peppers in 105-heat near Bakersfield on July 6.

The teen, whose name was not released, later recovered from his illness.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement also fined the company for child labor law violations.

Officials at C. Clunn Consulting and AgPrime Corp. did not immediately return calls late Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking comment on the citations.

Source: SacBee.com, The Sacramento Bee, “Cal-OSHA cites, fines company for farmworker death” Associated Press, 11 Jan 2012.

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