State-Wide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

March 18, 2009 10:53:16 PM PDT
While we're enjoying the warmth of spring temperatures ... farmworkers will soon find themselves toiling under very hot conditions. Safety officials kicked off a state-wide heat illness prevention campaign in Easton.As temperatures begin to rise farmworkers need to be reminded the law allows them to take water or shade breaks whenever needed. Cal-Osha says last year six occupational deaths were attributed to the heat. Three of them Ag-related.

Welsh was in Easton to talk with local growers, farm labor contractors and field supervisors at a heat illness prevention session. Training was conducted in both English and Spanish.

Farm labor contractors are required to provide portable shade structures to protect laborers from the intense heat.

Zepeda requires his foremen to have shade canopies up by nine each morning. Workers are urged to take regular water breaks.

Farmers and labor contractors are taught to look for the symptoms of heat stress like headache, excessive sweating and nausea. Cold water must be readily available in the fields.

Employers not meeting heat safety requirements are fined. Cal-Osha citations totaled 1-point-7-million dollars last year.

But the united farmworkers believes more can be done. The UFW wants the governor to propose criminal penalties for those whose gross negligence leads to the death of innocent people.

Training sessions like the one held in Easton will be repeated around the state over the next few months. The campaign hopes to reach 400-thousand people with the heat safety message.

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