Call or email us anytime
(805) 484-0333
Search Guide
Today is Friday, July 12, 2024 -

Industry Insights

Russell: Canaries in a Coal Mine

  • State: California

Last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul held a press conference to announce the details of a new study that describes a correlation between hot summer days and workers’ compensation claims in her state.

Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell

The data showed that when the heat index is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, injuries resulting in claims were 45% more likely to arise and 20% more severe. The study, conducted by the New York State Insurance Fund, analyzed 95,000 workers’ compensation claims from 2017 to 2021. The report also suggests that as temperatures rise, so do medical costs and the likelihood of claims.

While climate change affects everyone, certain workers — dubbed “climate canaries” by the American Journal of Public Health — are especially vulnerable. These include outdoor workers, indoor workers in hot environments and emergency response workers.

The increased frequency of extreme heat conditions and the growing risks to climate canaries highlight the necessity of California’s current and proposed outdoor heat rules. Senate Bill 1299 would create a presumption for heat-related injuries within the agriculture industry and acknowledge the specific hurdles faced by farmworkers in reporting injuries, such as language barriers and fear of employer retaliation.

California law currently requires that agricultural employers provide shade, hydration access, rest breaks and heat illness-prevention training. Those heat illness-prevention regulations are succeeding on the farms that are complying. However, according to a 2023 study from the University of California, Merced, Community and Labor Center, nearly half of farmworkers reported that their employers never presented a plan to prevent heat illness as mandated by law. And nearly one in six farmworkers said they did not receive the minimum number of rest breaks required by law.

More compliance equals fewer heat injuries.

CAAA will continue to monitor developments with respect to the pending changes to California’s occupational safety and health laws and regulations. Protecting California workers, particularly our farmworkers, from heat-related injuries is not just a matter of occupational safety, but also a fundamental human rights issue that requires proactive measures and collective efforts from employers, policymakers and advocates.

Andrew Russell is director of communications for the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. This opinion is republished, with permission, from the CAAA website.

No Comments

Log in to post a comment


Do not post libelous remarks. You are solely responsible for the postings you input. By posting here you agree to hold harmless and indemnify WorkCompCentral for any damages and actions your post may cause.


Upcoming Events

  • Jul 29 – Aug 2, 2024

    76th Annual SAWCA Convention

    SAVE THE DATE! 76th Annual SAWCA Convention July 29 – August 2, 2024 Hotel Effie Sandestin 1 Grand …

  • Aug 14-17, 2024

    CSIMS 2024 Annual Dual Track C

    California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS) is combining its two conferences, PI …

  • Sep 23-26, 2024

    IAIABC 110th Convention

    The IAIABC invites you to the IAIABC 110th Convention, "Passport to Solutions". The IAIABC Convent …

Workers' Compensation Events

Social Media Links

c/o Business Insurance Holdings, Inc.
PO Box 1010
Greenwich, CT 06836
(805) 484-0333