Local News

Thursday, Jul 11 2013 06:44 PM

State lets company resume farming

BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

A Visalia-based farming company has received permission to resume outdoor operations after state officials determined it had corrected heat-illness safety shortcomings.

Etchegaray Farms LLC, owner of a Richgrove field where a Central Valley farmworker died Friday, was shut down by Cal-OSHA Tuesday when an inspector found that the company had failed to give employees access to shade, follow high-heat procedures or institute emergency procedures.

A Cal-OSHA spokesman said Thursday that the shutdown order was lifted Wednesday.

Tuesday's shutdown came one day after the United Farm Workers union called for stricter enforcement of heat illness-prevention rules, saying the farmworker's death could have been prevented.

The union identified the 37-year-old farmworker as Juan Ochoa, who may have been a resident of Delano. Cal-OSHA declined to confirm the man's name but said he had been living in Earlimart.

Cal-OSHA said the man was unresponsive when emergency medical workers found him in a field four miles east of Highway 65 about 3 p.m.

The agency first issued heat-related shutdown orders in 2008. Since then it has issued 31 heat-related shutdowns, all but six of those were filed against farm labor contractors and other agriculture companies.

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