Temperatures in Kern County this week are expected to reach well over 100 degrees, and while most people try to avoid the summer heat by staying indoors, not everyone has that option.
“With the sun and sweating all the time, that makes it a little harder for us,” said Edgar Flores, a construction worker. “It’s tough, but we can handle it.”
Flores and his co-workers spent Monday afternoon working on a construction project in downtown Bakersfield. He’s worked outside of Bakersfield before, but says he’s never experienced anything like the heat in Kern County.
“I came back from Oregon, and with the weather change and climate change, next thing I know, I feel like throwing up,” he said. “I let my boss know and they called a doctor.
According to a Cal-OSHA spokesperson, heat should also be a concern for employers, not just employees.
In fact, employers are supposed to provide certain things for their workers when the mercury rises.
For instance, when the thermometer reaches 85 degrees and above, employers must provide a canopy for outdoor employees to rest under, if they get tired.
And, when it gets to 95 degrees and higher, they have even more responsibilities.
“[The law] requires employers to observe their employees, ensure they’re not suffering from any heat-related illness,” said Efren Gomez, a representative for Cal-OSHA. “Also, it does require employers to be aware and know the symptoms of heat illness in their employees.”
This includes ensuring workers are well-hydrated and encouraging them to take frequent breaks in order to hydrate.
On top of that, employers must provide their workers with a way to contact them or 911 at all times.
So, if you are working in an area without cell phone reception, your employer must provide another method of communication.
According to Gomez ,the penalty for overworking or under-providing for employees in the heat is a fine, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
While employees have the right to ask for breaks, water, and shade, it’s still tough out in the heat.
“I mean, as is, I can feel the floor through my boots,” said James Ainslie, who works at a car wash in Bakersfield.
Concrete and asphalt can get much hotter than the surrounding air. 17 News used an infrared thermometer and recorded a temperature of 133 degrees coming off the concrete next to the car wash where Ainslie works.
“You feel it after being here just a couple minutes in the sun,” he said.