Last summer the day laborer Eleazar Blandón died of heatstroke after being abandoned at the gates of a health center in Lorca. Some days ago, another agricultural worker was admitted in a “serious” condition after suffering a heat stroke in Alhama (Almería) during his working day. The Ministry of Labor has recalled this Monday the danger to health of certain jobs more exposed to heat in summer, for which the Labor Inspection has started a specific campaign, especially of an informative nature. The intention is to warn companies of their obligation to prevent and protect their workforce against “thermal stress”. Failure to do so is an offense, which can lead to fines “from 2,046 to 819,780 euros” depending on the severity of the case, recalls the Ministry of Labor.
“They made me unload a truck at two in the afternoon in the heat wave. I had dizziness and when I refused, they kicked me out”
Vice President Yolanda Díaz presented the specific Plan this Monday together with the director of the State Agency for Labor and Social Security Inspection (OEITSS), Héctor Illueca. Díaz recalled the death of Eleazar Blandón and asked the companies for their “involvement” in preventing heat stroke to prevent similar cases from occurring. “If we do it well, we can avoid it. If the preventive measures are followed, if what has to be done is done, we would not see what we sometimes see, unfortunately,” said the second vice president and Minister of Labor.
I weighed the proven health risk of heat waves, and in general of high temperatures, sometimes these are normalized since they are common in summer in Spain, without employers putting means to specifically protect your insoles from the hazards associated with heat.
The Labor Inspection Plan against heat stroke will include several lines of action. On the one hand, the massive sending of informative letters on the obligations of the companies in the matter of prevention in the agricultural and construction sectors, “including ETT and public administrations”. The Ministry has chosen the two sectors for their specificities, working outdoors and often involving a high physical load, which increases the risk for workers, explained Yolanda Díaz.
Letters to some 138,000 companies
The Labor Inspectorate will send “137,503 letters” to companies that employ almost one million workers, “973,021 working people,” they explain in the Ministry. The letter is for informational purposes only, unlike other Inspection campaigns in which companies are required to prove compliance with labor regulations, for example in relation to fraudulent temporary hiring.
Héctor Illueca explained that the main objective of the Inspection is informative and educational. The letters will include information on the legal obligations of companies in terms of occupational risk prevention, as well as specific documentation on the risks of exposure to high temperatures and, above all, how to combat them with advice designed by the National Institute of Safety and Security. Health at Work.
The letters will also function as a warning, since they will remind companies of the economic consequences of not complying with the prevention guarantees. “Failure to comply with the duty to protect the safety and health of workers may constitute a serious or very serious offense, punishable respectively, with fines ranging from 2,046 euros to 40,985 euros and from 40,986 euros to 819,780 euros,” they recall in the Ministry of Labor.
Illueca explained that pedagogical meetings will also take place with the territorial social agents of these sectors of activity, in which the most effective measures to avoid damage to health derived from high temperatures will be addressed.
Regarding the inspection action, Héctor Illueca has indicated that “specific actions” are already taking place on this issue, as has happened in other years, and that they will pay special attention to the “irregular economy”, where more abuses are committed. Furthermore, he explained that the complaints received by the Labor Inspectorate on this matter have already been classified as “urgent” in order to act as quickly as possible “in the face of abuses.
The labor authority monitors every summer the occupational risks related to high temperatures, explains Ana Ercoreca, especially in the agricultural sector. “In the area where I work, Huesca and Zaragoza, it is very hot in summer and workers are very exposed. They talk with companies, requirements are made, so that they guarantee their safety, for example with water supply, caps, the modification of schedules to avoid working hours with higher temperatures … “, explains the inspector.