Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Labor and Industry
Safety and Health Codes Board
Heat Illness Prevention Standard [16 VAC 25 ‑ 210]
Action NOIRA on Heat Illness Prevention
Comment Period Ended on 6/9/2021
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
6/7/21  11:17 am
Commenter: Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action

Protecting Virginia's workers from extreme heat

It is very encouraging to see that Virginia is moving to join three other states to protect our workers from the dangers of extreme heat.  The text of the NOIRA very completely outlines the medical conditions, from heat rash to the potentially fatal heat stroke, that can impact the Commonwealth’s workers.


Two California cases illustrate the danger of extreme heat on workers.


  • A 17 y/o woman was tying grape vines at a farm in May of 2008 when the temperature soared above 95 degrees. The nearest water cooler was a 10-minute walk away and the break given to workers did not allow them time to go and get water and then return. She collapsed from the extreme heat and on arrival at the hospital she was in a coma and her body temperature topped 108 degrees. She died two days later.


  • A 53 y/o gentleman came to America in July of 2004 to join his son working in the fields.  5 days later, after a 10-hour workday picking grapes in the 105 degree sun, he collapsed from heatstroke. The crew’s supervisor did not recognize the signs of heat stroke and told his son to drive his father home. In the car his father began foaming at the mouth and then went limp. The son immediately headed to the closest hospital. By the time they reached their destination his father had died.


Very simple measures from scheduled water breaks, close access to water and shade, and training of both workers and supervisors in recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat illness can protect our workers.  Let us take these steps to prevent Virginia from experiencing cases such as those described above.  


Bob Kitchen, MD

Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action

CommentID: 98959