Florida Keys

Key West’s heat sent a worker to the hospital. His employer now faces $21,000 in fines

Water, rest, and shade: Preventing heat illness for employees

Employers can help their workers stay safe and healthy if they remember this advice for preventing heat illness.
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Employers can help their workers stay safe and healthy if they remember this advice for preventing heat illness.

A Georgia company faces $21,000 in fines after the federal government said it failed to protect its employees from the heat while they worked at a Stock Island job site.

Evoqua Water Technologies, based in Thomasville, Georgia, also failed to report the hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours, the required federal time frame, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A worker at the site at 6630 Front St. on Stock Island, which borders Key West, suffered heat exhaustion and ended up in the hospital after working in direct sunlight while wearing the required protective clothing during welding and fabrication work, OSHA said.

“On the day of his hospitalization, the heat index ranged between 83 and 88 degrees,” OSHA said.

The water services company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or fight the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

A message sent to Evoqua Water Technologies seeking comment was not returned Wednesday.

The proposed $21,311 fines include the maximum penalty allowed by law for the heat-related violation, OSHA said in a news release.

“Employers must take proper precautions when employees are working outdoors in excessive heat conditions, including ensuring that workers have access to water, and take frequent rest breaks in cool shaded areas,” said OSHA Area Director Condell Eastmond, who is based in Fort Lauderdale.

OSHA said it conducts training and outreach on heat-related workplace hazards every spring and summer, including information on establishing a heat illness prevention program. The agency also has produced a video detailing how to protect workers from the heat.

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