The US Department of Labor has issued a citation to a construction company in Alabama following the death of a 33-year-old employee due to heat illness at a work site in Huntsville.

SJ&L General Contractor LLC put their workers at risk of extreme temperatures without providing adequate rest or shade, resulting in a tragic incident in July 2023. A 33-year-old concrete finisher collapsed and later passed away due to heat illness, which could have been prevented if the employer had followed established safety practices for heat hazards.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the workers of SJ&L General Contractor LLC were hand forming concrete curbs during a 10-hour shift in direct sunlight, with a heat index of 107 degrees and humidity at 85 percent. Despite showing clear signs of heat illness, the worker was not given access to shade or rest, and eventually became unresponsive and passed away after being admitted to the hospital.

OSHA’s investigation found that the company had exposed not only the deceased worker, but also 18 other employees, to extreme heat hazards. OSHA Area Office Director Joel Batiz emphasized the importance of providing workers with access to shade and rest in such brutal heat, stating that it could have prevented the tragic loss of life in this case. He also reminded employers of their responsibility to establish rest cycles, train workers on identifying signs of weather exposure, and implement and monitor safety plans to ensure worker safety.

The company now faces $16,131 in proposed penalties for their failure to protect their workers from extreme heat hazards. OSHA has a number of resources available to assist employers in keeping their workers safe in both outdoor and indoor heat environments, including a heat safety tool that calculates the heat index and risk level for workers and provides protective measures to maximize safety.

As the winter season approaches, OSHA also urges employers to visit their winter safety page for tips on keeping workers safe in cold weather conditions. It is crucial for employers to prioritize the safety and well-being of their workers, regardless of the season, to prevent severe and potentially fatal consequences.  

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