Jan 16, 2012
Farm labor firm cited for heat-related fatality

The state agency charged with protecting workers and the public from safety hazards has cited a local farm labor company for what it says is the first confirmed heat-related fatality in 2011.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued citations against two California farm labor contractors — AgPrime Corp. of Los Banos and C. Clunn Consulting of Holtville — following investigations into violations of California’s heat-illness prevention regulations, according to a press release from the state agency.

“These incidents, including a tragic death, highlight the need for employers at outdoor worksites to be diligent and monitor their workers for signs of heat illness,” said Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker. “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. Employers should be aware of their responsibility.”

In the case involving the local company, an employee, Romero Vasquez, 47, collapsed in a cantaloupe field in Blythe on July 7 and later died after being airlifted to a hospital in Phoenix. Vasquez had been packaging cantaloupes, loading 40-pound boxes on a trailer and driving a tractor in 102-degree heat prior to his death. High humidity added greater risk to the worker. Imperial Valley Press

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