BAKERSFIELD, CA - When the temperature rises, most of us turn down the air conditioner, but if you work outside that's not possible. That's why California has laws in place to protect workers in the heat.
"Well, the employer has a responsibility to provide access to water,” said Efren Gomez with Bakersfield CAL/OSHA. “They also have the responsibility to provide shade to the workers. Also, they have responsibility to provide training to supervisors and employees.”
California's High Heat Law is not designed specifically for farmworkers. It is designed for all workers in the state.
We spoke with construction workers near Ming Avenue and Gosford Road on Wednesday to see how they handle the heat.
"We have five-gallon water jugs that are on the back of every truck,” said Jamey Robinson, a plumber at the construction site. “They are filled up every morning with ice and water and checked by our supervisors. If the temperatures are too hot they ask us every 45 minutes to stop, take a break and re-hydrate."
From 2009 to 2012, CAL/OSHA says there were five incidents where it had to shut down a non-agriculture business due to High Heat Law violations, including a nursery.
To resume work, a company must show CAL/OSHA it has fixed violations and has heat awareness training programs in place for employees.
"It shows that people care and they are trying to improve working conditions for everybody else, not just this company itself, but everybody in general that work in the fields," said Louis Ochoa cousin of Juan Ochoa, a farmworker who died last week.
If a company complies quickly, work can resume usually within a 24-hour period.
There is a way to anonymously report companies for workers who feel the high heat rules aren't being followed.
You can call the Bakersfield office of CAL/OSHA at 661-588-6400 and if you tell them you wish to remain anonymous they must honor your request.