OSHA doesn’t have any regulations specific to making sure workers are protected from heat. But that doesn’t stop the agency from fining companies for failing to protect workers against hot conditions.
Symmetry Turf Installations of Mount Pleasant, Texas, faces two serious violations in connection with the death of a worker.
The forklift operator died of complications from heat stroke that occurred in June while resurfacing the football practice field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
OSHA cited Symmetry under the agency’s General Duty Clause for failing to train workers to:
- recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness, and
- precautions to take when employees are working under hot conditions.
The proposed fines total $5,040. Symmetry is a small company that employs 14 workers. It has 15 business days to decide whether to contest the fine.
Resources for employers on heat illness, including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency, are available on OSHA’s website. An explanation of the heat index is included.
Workers sue state OSHA
Meanwhile, a group of farm workers and a union working with them filed suit against Cal-OSHA, alleging the agency hasn’t fulfilled its duty to enforce its regulations regarding outdoor workers and extreme heat.
In Bautista v. Cal-OSHA, the United Farmworkers Union and the employees accuse the California safety agency of not conducting on-site inspections for complaints, failing to investigate heat-related injuries and fatalities, and failing to collect meaningful penalties for violation of the Heat Illness Prevention regulation.
Seven years ago, California became the first state to have a workplace safety regulation with requirements for employers to keep outdoor workers safe from extreme heat by providing shade and water. At least 28 farm workers have died of heat-related causes since adoption of the regulation. In 2012, California is investigating four potential cases of heat-related worker deaths.