Investigation Looks Into Heat-Related Deaths of California Workers

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With climate change resulting in higher temperatures, outdoor workers are more at risk of preventable heat-related illnesses. (iStock)

In the last 10 years, nearly four dozen California workers have died from  heat related-illnesses, according to an investigation by Columbia Journalism Investigations, NPR, KPCC and The California Newsroom. Public health experts say heat-related deaths are 100% preventable. But the investigation finds they still occur because of the chronic underfunding and understaffing of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health — Cal/OSHA, which is charged with enforcing heat standards and protocols. Without proper inspections, employers can skirt regulations, placing farmworkers, construction workers, landscapers and others who work outdoors at a higher risk for heat-related deaths. With climate change only making California’s temperatures hotter, we’ll talk to the story’s reporters about the breadth of the issue and what’s being done to address it.


Jacob Margolis, science reporter, KPCC and LAist

Brian Edwards, reporter and investigative fellow, Columbia University