UPDATE: How Hot is Your Warehouse?

The amended Assembly Bill 1045 has been referred to the labor and industrial relations committee of the California legislature. Introduced in February, the bill calls for workplace monitoring to avoid exposing workers to excessive heat.

If passed, the bill calls for the Occupational and Safety and Health Standards Board to establish workplace standards by July 1, 2008.

In an earlier report on the proposed bill, Logistics Today noted a background statement attached to the bill lists 37 heat-related serious accident reports were filed with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, with 14 listed as fatalities. It was not clear whether any of the cases were related to indoor working conditions, which was one of the motivations for the bill.

Discussions of the bill have frequently referred to a fatal incident at a Rite Aid distribution center in Lancaster, CA. Though the coroner determined the death was not heat related, conditions at the facility—specifically its lack of air conditioning—have been used repeatedly in the discussion of the need for the safety rules change. In a statement issued by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the union quotes a company spokesperson allowing that heat may have been a contributing factor. In a subsequent interview with an official spokesperson from Rite Aid, the spokesperson said no such statement was made by an authorized spokesperson. The company’s position has been and remains that the death was not heat related—as indicated by the coroner’s report.

The proposed bill calls for training in recognition and prevention of heat-related illness. It also calls for workplace monitoring, preventive rest and work breaks, and ready access to drinking water.

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