Valley farmers received heat-related training

FRESNO, Calif.

Everyone is susceptible to heat-related illnesses, especially those who have to work outdoors in sizzling temperatures.

That's why ag leaders are reminding growers about the importance of keeping safe while working under the sun.

Workers were out in the fields and packing this summer variety of squash onto a truck on Tuesday. Unlike last week, they weren't working under extreme heat.

"Well it was kind of hot, we use to get off at 11:30 or 12 everyday," farm worker Alejandro Ramos said.

Ramos and others took a break from the sun under a portable tent and drank plenty of water - items made easily accessible because of state regulations.

On Tuesday morning, Valley ag leaders held a training on heat-illness prevention in Kerman. Around thirty farm labor contractors, supervisors and growers were reminded on the importance of providing shade, water and breaks to their workers.

"Without that training, without this communication to the workers, they can't expect the workers to follow along and be in compliance," Cal/OSHA trainer Esther Santiago

When it reaches above 95 degrees and farmers don't comply with these regulations they can be cited.

"They can never escape getting cited if they are doing something or if they're not training their employees, there's many things that they have to do in order to make sure that their employees are trained," Santiago said.

"Las clases son muy importante," crew leader Armando Osegueda said.

Osegueda has attended many of the workshops and says he always relays the information back to the workers.

Aside from water breaks, portable restrooms have to be readily available. However, some caution that the worker is just as responsible as their employer when it comes to heat safety.

"Several heat illnesses in the past of deaths have occurred from an individual from alcohol, from personal health problems that is not encountered by the employer causing it, it was the individual themselves," Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League said.

The head of Cal/OSHA's Central Valley office says about 80 percent of employers were in full compliance last year. Those who do not comply are immediately cited.

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