Skip to comments.Cal-OSHA sued for alleged inability to protect farm laborers
Posted on 07/30/2009 8:11:01 PM PDT by SmithL
The American Civil Liberties Union and the United Farm Workers Union filed a lawsuit this morning against Cal-OSHA, accusing it of not being capable of protecting the state's 650,000 farm laborers from heat injury and death.
The suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court credits occupational safety officials with stepping up enforcement in the wake of fatalities last year.
But it says employers remain out of compliance with regulations. It cites as evidence six farmworker deaths last year -- three more than Cal-OSHA recognizes -- injuries of farmworkers this year and widespread violations of laws that Cal-OSHA inspectors have found in recent months.
State officials, the lawyers said in a press release, "have failed in virtually every possible way to create a system to protect these workers, who provide 90 percent of the labor for California's multibillion-dollar agricultural industry -- the nation's largest -- that produces everything from grapes and strawberries to lettuce and tomatoes."
"Perhaps most glaringly," lawyers say, "Cal/OSHA has failed to establish common-sense regulations that would provide potentially life-saving water, shade and rest to workers who labor outdoors in temperatures that regularly top 100 degrees F."
Dean Fryer, Cal-OSHA spokesman, said he couldn't comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit because the agency had not yet reviewed it.
But he said, "We've stepped up our enforcement much more than in the past, and we've done a tremendous amount of educational outreach."
"There are still problems out there," he said, "but with all this outreach we're doing, we're beginning to see results. The culture of the workplace is changing."
Catherine Lhamon, assistant legal director at the ACLU in Southern California, said Cal-OSHA suffers from an insufficient number of inspectors,
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
As bad as suing FEMA for allowing tropical Storm Katrina to turn into a hurricane.