Heat illness prevention training aims to keep outside workers safe

Brianna Willis Image
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Heat illness prevention training aims to keep outside workers safe
As temperatures start to rise, experts are reminding employers to protect their workers while working outdoors.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Farmworkers in Easton were hard at work on Friday pulling grape leaves.

Many of them ensured their bodies were covered and kept bottles of water with them, which is exactly what Cal/OSHA recommends.

"In California, we have about four million outdoor workers. So, one in five workers are outdoors, and in the summer months, it gets really hot and when it gets really hot, the risk of heat illness increases," said David Hornung with Cal/OSHA.

On Friday, Cal/OSHA held its first heat-illness prevention training of the year, reminding employers to provide workers with water, rest and shade.

"The best data we have says that there are about a thousand workers each year that are getting heat illness and going to the hospital, so we want to prevent that," said Hornung.

Nisei Farmers League President Manuel Cunha says help also starts with knowing the signs including intense sweating and dizziness.

"When you start to get sick or when you start to feel drowsy, you're not stable, let the employer or the supervisor know immediately, so we can take care of the remedy," said Cunha.

Reflecting our changing environment, Cunha says they added training to stay safe around wildfire smoke and prevent valley fever.

For both, the solution is to ensure companies have masks available for everyone.

HR Manager for Sun Valley Packing, Yessenia Reyes, is just one employer who attended Friday.

She says they try to change schedules to help workers avoid the heat, but most importantly, she reminds them to speak up no matter what.

"We do make sure that they understand this is very important-first of all, their safety and health are far more important than any job," said Reyes.

Cunha added that speaking up can mean the difference between life or death.

"Alert workers not to be fearful about saying something, they need to say something because if they don't say it, maybe somebody could get hurt," said Cunha.

Last year, Cal/OSHA received about 250 complaints regarding heat illness working conditions.

They say if you have any concerns, you can call them and remain anonymous.

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