Extreme heat creates dangerous conditions for outdoor workers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The groundwork for another hot summer in the Valley is being laid this week as temperatures are expected to spike.

"It was raining for two weeks and bam you get triple digit degree weather," said Mario's Tree Service worker Daniel Mendoza.

The big concern is for the people who work outdoors this time of year. Workers exposed to extreme heat are more vulnerable to heat stress, which can lead to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

"Farmworkers that are working in the fields, working in the trees, construction workers, CALTRANS workers...anybody out there in the heat has to take precautions," said Manuel Cunha.

Cunha is with the Nisei Farmers League, and he says outdoor workers should be drinking at least a quart of water every hour when temperature reach dangerous levels.

"That's a lot of water," he said. "But when you look at working in the fields...up and down a ladder...walking or hoeing weeds or picking fruit or grapes or berries or whatever the workers need to be watching each other."

Workers were surrounded by heavy machinery and dirt as they battled Tuesday's sweltering heat.

CAL OSHA demands these job sites provide clean water and shade for employees to rest and cool down. Multiple heat safety reminders are posted for field workers to see, including on all igloo jugs of water.

"Everybody wants one goal as an employer," Cunha said. "It's for that worker to go home to their family every night that's the objective."

Experts say heat-related incidents among field workers have declined over the last decade. The Valley has not seen an heat-related death in agriculture in at least three years.
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