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Ag businesses ordered to suspend operations due to heat rules

INLAND EMPIRE – Two agricultural businesses in the Inland Empire near Winchester were recently ordered to suspend operations following an inspection that revealed workers were not being protected from excess heat exposure, state officials said.

Rheingans Farms and Greenfield Inc. were shut down July 13 after inspectors from the California Department of Industrial Relations, division of Occupational Safety & Health identified violations of the state’s heat illness prevention regulations, according to the agency’s Krisann Chasarik.

Temperatures had reached the 90s by noon, but Cal/OSHA investigators found that farm workers at those locations had no ready access to shade, and were not provided water, except for whatever they brought themselves, Chasarik said.

“For employees working outdoors, exposure to high temperatures without basic protective measures like water, shade breaks, training and emergency preparedness can be life-threatening,” said Cal/OSHA chief Len Walsh.

Cal/OSHA “will not hesitate to stop an employer’s operations when we find this kind of situation,” Chasarik said.

“Whenever temperatures are rising into the 90s and 100s, as they have been <at times during the summer>, employers need to make sure they are covering all the bases when it comes to heat illness prevention,” Chasarik said.

The agency’s orders regarding the two businesses was to remain in effect until the farm operators demonstrated compliance with the state’s heat illness prevention standards, which became law in 2005, according to Chasarik.


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