Gino DiCaro

Informational heat illness hearing

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, July 20, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

With the temperatures rising in California, the topic of regulating heat illnesses is also heating up in the Capitol.  For the second week in a row Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter), Chair of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, convened an informational hearing to review the Heat Illness Prevention Regulations implemented by the CalOSHA Standards Board in July 2006.  Although these regulations only applied to outdoor workplaces, a discussion surrounding the expansion of these regulations to indoor worksites always emerges.  

This week's hearing primarily focused on the implementation and enforcement of the new outdoor heat regulations.  The hearing consisted of testimony from farm workers, representatives from the Agriculture Industry, state agency representatives and labor.  Farm workers indicated that they were pleased with the new regulations but felt that certain employers might not be implementing the new law appropriately.  The Agriculture Industry outlined the steps they had taken to educate and provide their members with the tools necessary for compliance.  

The interaction between Len Welsh, the acting Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and Senator Florez provided the most insight.  They discussed the division's effort to increase compliance throughout the Agriculture industry and the enforcement process.  Senator Florez encouraged the industry to consider including CalOSHA phones numbers in their materials to enhance worker's ability to file complaints.

The hearing focused on the outdoor heat regulations, however, during the public comment period representatives from the labor community testified that the legislature should require indoor heat regulations as well.  They made reference to AB 1045 (Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach) which would direct the Standards Board to adopt indoor heat illness regulations.  The bill currently sits in the Senate Appropriations suspense file.  CMTA opposes AB 1045 because it would require the Standards Board to adopt a highly prescriptive indoor heat stress standard no later than July 1, 2008.  The bill would require that the Standards Board develop a one-size-fits all regulation that would apply to every business in California without exception to size, type, nature of work or the environment.  The legislation preempts the regulatory process which is currently evaluating the type of regulation needed to address indoor heat issues.

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