BLYTHE (CBS) — A labor contractor who allegedly failed to protect a Blythe farm hand from excessive heat exposure was fined $74,125 by the state, it was announced Wednesday.
The Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health division issued the penalty against Holtville, Calif.-based C. Clunn Consulting saying they helped contributed t the death of 47-year-old Romero Vasquez.
The deceased farm hand was loading 40-pound boxes of cantaloupes and driving a tractor in 102-degree heat and high humidity when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest last July 7.
The farm worker was airlifted to a Phoenix hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
DIC Director Christine Baker said the case highlights “the need for employers at outdoor worksites to be diligent and monitor their workers for signs of heat illness.”
“We have conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign on heat illness prevention regulations over the last three years, which has included training for employers and supervisors,” Baker said. “Employers should be aware of their responsibility.”
After a months-long investigation, C. Clunn Consulting was cited for alleged willful violation of the state’s heat illness prevention standards. Employers are supposed to train employees and supervisors on how to identify and treat symptoms of heat illness and have emergency procedures to safeguard employees in case of illness.
“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,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess.
C. Clunn Consulting has several weeks to appeal the ruling.
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