Heat illness training offers helpful tips

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Valley warm up serves as a perfect time to remind those who work outdoors they need to drink plenty of water.

Heat illness training and a written safety plan are required by Cal/OSHA if your employees work outdoors.

Farmers and labor contractors attended a heat illness prevention session at the Fresno County Farm Bureau on Tuesday.

Shade structures should be put up first thing in the morning before it warms up and cool water must be available for those working outdoors.

A Cal/OSHA inspector offered tips on keeping workers safe.

Kristi Nagao of Nagao Farms in Selma found the session to be very helpful. She said, "I learned you do need to be hydrated every 15 minutes and it's very important to educate the workers you work with as well as supervisors."

The workshops are sponsored by the Nisei Farmers League. Group president Manuel Cunha said the sessions began in 2008 after a woman collapsed and died while working the fields.

Cunha added, "What we went from that to the last three years - no deaths at all and that means awareness, awareness, training and training has been a tremendous success."

Cunha said it's important only cool water is stored inside the jugs on the work site.

Nagao explained, "Gatorade is not the best thing. One it has a high sodium, high sugar level. You also want to take in the factor of health issues. Some people might have high blood pressure where sodium is not very good or might be diabetic where sugar is not very good."

And as the temperatures rise more precautions are taken.

Cunha said, "When we get to 95 we immediately implement what we call high heat standards. That means we now reframe our work day. We probably will start at 6am or 5:30 and we go to 12:30."

The next heat illness prevention session will take place July 17th in Kerman.

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