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OSHA violation possible -- California man dies in summer heat

A 55-year-old California construction worker died while working in the summer heat during the last week of June. An investigation has begun into a possible OSHA violation. An order was also issued by the agency shutting down work at the site after the construction worker died while working at the location.

According to the Sheriff's Department, the worker was found to be unresponsive and on the ground. After being given water, he was taken to a local hospital where he later died. The deceased man had been working at the site for less than a week.

A Cal/OSHA spokesperson said that they had not yet received word from the coroner's office regarding the exact cause of death. Because the man had been working outside in extreme heat, however, a heat-related incident has not been ruled out. Specific industries, such as farm work and construction, are considered at risk whenever the temperature is above 95 degrees and employers are required to begin high-heat procedures such as checking for signs of illness and observing closely how new workers are doing. The Cal/OSHA spokesperson also said that the agency was working with the company to take steps to eliminate temperature-related hazards and prevent any further casualties.

The 'prohibiting use' order will be lifted when OSHA inspectors are satisfied that all heat-related hazards at the site have been corrected. California OSHA investigations can, however, take up to 6 months. An OSHA investigation can also be triggered when a worker files for workers' compensation insurance benefits if he or she suffers a heat-related illness or injury. In addition to taking all necessary precautions to protect their workers from temperature-related work hazards, employers will find it to be in their best interests to remain aware of their state's laws regarding what might constitute a serious and costly OSHA violation.

Source: Source: Appeal-Democrat, "Workers take precautions in heat," Laura van der Meer, July 12, 2013

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