A Georgia company providing farm laborers made it onto a national list of the “Dirty Dozen” employers of 2019. This is compilation of companies published each year by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy group committed to promoting safety in U.S. workplaces. Its 2019 report features businesses that have violated workplace safety practice standards and placed their employees at risk of work-related injuries, deaths and illnesses.
During June of 2018, when temperatures in Georgia were between 85.8 and 97.5 degrees, a 24-year-old tomato farm laborer died from work-related heat exhaustion. His employer received fines of nearly $13,000 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as reported by the Moultrie Observer. An investigation uncovered that the company’s employees were working directly in the sunlight with a heat index that rose to 99.1 degrees, according to OSHA’s standard measurement of heat and humidity.
Preventing workplace heat-related deaths and injuries
The farm laborer’s death from heat exhaustion was preventable. OSHA issued the fine and three other citations based on an employer’s requirement to protect its workers from recognizable hazards. Heatstroke is a foreseeable and dangerous condition that employers may prevent by providing workers with plenty of drinking water and regular breaks so that they can hydrate themselves.
Because of the workplace safety issues, the NCOSH added the Georgia farm-labor contracting company to its 2019 list of “Dirty Dozen” employers. As noted in the organization’s self-published report, the immigrant farm laborer died only one week after arriving in the U.S. to start work.
A number of workplaces may not be in compliance with OSHA standards
According to the 2019 NCOSH report, OSHA covers safety inspections of an estimated 9 million American workplaces, but must rely on a team of a little under 900 inspectors to carry out its mission. This may leave a significant number of workplaces uninspected — and lacking in compliance — unless there is a report of a safety violation or serious worker injury.
When injured on the job, filing a claim for workers’ compensation may provide monetary benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. In certain cases, it might require a third-party liability claim to receive full compensation and provide relief for pain and suffering or the loss of a loved one.