DIR orders record fine for heat-related death — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

DIR orders record fine for heat-related death

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California worker safety regulators fined Merced Farm Labor Contractor a record $262,700 for allegedly violating state regulations that required it to provide shade, water and breaks to its agricultural workers and to train supervisors and employees about how to lower the risk of employees suffering heat-related ailments.

The regulators also issued seven citations against the Atwater-based contractor that employed a 17-year-old female farm worker who died in May after working in a vineyard for nine hours in high heat without shade and little water.

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), which investigated the death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, found multiple violations of the heat-illness prevention standards the state implemented in 2006.

Vasquez Jimenez was a pregnant undocumented immigrant who died while pruning grapevines in 100-degree temperatures.

The violations included failing to report Vasquez Jimenez’s potential heat illness and her death to state officials. The DIR cited Merced Farm Labor for failing to properly train employees, failing to provide prompt medical attention for employees suffering serious injuries when working in remote locations, failing to provide readily accessible water supplies at all times and for failing to provide a shaded area for workers to recover from the heat.

According to the DIR, the fine is the largest assessed against an agricultural company for violating the state’s heat-illness prevention standards.

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