VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --On the hottest day so far this year, some Valley farmers kept it cool inside the Tulare County Farm Bureau. But the topic of discussion was heat illness, and how to prevent it from happening in the spring and summer months.
"It was definitely enlightening," said Jacob Shepard, the food safety coordinator for Merritt Farms in Porterville.
On Wednesday, Shepard learned about safety in the sun, from shade to rest to water, all of which must be provided to outdoor workers. A Cal/OSHA consultant told the farmers that fieldworkers are entitled to two gallons of water for every eight hours worked. The water must be cool, clean, and pure.
"If you're not keeping up to date or at least being aware of who you got in the field, and what the weather is going to be like, you're asking for problems," Shepard said.
Shade must be put up when it's eighty degrees or higher. At 95 degrees, high heat procedures go into effect. Fieldworkers should take a ten minute cooldown every two hours. Employers and supervisors should know the symptoms of heat illness and have a written heat program specific to their business.
"Here we are the middle of April, and we're having a 90 degree weather day," said Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tricia Stever Blattler.
"So this regulation is already being triggered and out in the fields you're going to see pop up tents and permanent shade being set up to accommodate worker needs. And it's a really critical rule that has some pretty tough penalties if not followed."
More than a certificate from Cal/OSHA, the training attendees now have the knowledge to avoid an $18,000 fine for being out of compliance, or worse, a heat-related death.
For more information, go to Cal/OSHA's website, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 559-454-1295.