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Quick Hits

  • A newly proposed bill would create a presumption that certain heat-related injuries “arose out of and came in the course of employment” if the injuries developed after a worker has been working outside “for an employer … that fails to comply with heat illness prevention standards.”
  • The bill applies to employers in the agricultural industry specifically.
  • This bill is scheduled for a hearing on April 10, 2024.

The proposed law would establish a California workers’ compensation presumption within the agriculture industry. In particular, if passed, the law would include the following key features:

  • If an agriculture employer failed to comply with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health—or Cal/OSHA—“heat illness prevention standards … any resulting heat-related injury” would “be presumed to arise out of and in the court of employment.”
  • The bill defines an “injury” as “any heat-related injury, illness, or death that develops or manifests after the employee was working outdoors during or within the pay period in which an employee suffers any heat-related illness, injury, or death.”
  • The presumption would be rebuttable, but unless controverted by evidence, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board would be required to find a heat illness injury.

All California employers are required to comply with the current outdoor heat illness standard, which requires employers to implement a written heat illness plan, which must include “[p]rocedures for the provision of water and access to shade,” a relevant training course, “acclimatization methods and procedures,” emergency response procedures, and a requirement regarding rest periods.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments with respect to the pending changes to California’s occupational safety and health laws and regulations and will provide updates on the firm’s California and Workplace Safety and Health blogs as additional information becomes available.

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