Farm supervisors trained on how to protect outdoor workers as temperatures rise

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Windy conditions followed spring storms in the Valley, but now it's expected to warm up a bit.

Cal/OSHA and the Nisei Farmers League want to make sure outside workers stay hydrated, cool and safe.

Heat illness training for farm supervisors was held in both Spanish and English in Easton.

Up until now, conditions outside have been comfortable but that will soon change.

"What they're going to start doing next week is acclimatization (for) people that have been working in the 60 degrees, 70 degrees, now suddenly the 90s. So they're going to watch for people who may have worked in our industry for the first time," said Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League.

Farm laborers, construction workers and others are all protected by the same state laws.

You can always request shade if you work outdoors. It's mandatory once the temperatures hit 80 degrees.

Water must also be made available.

Supervisors must also be trained in first aid and CPR.

David Hornung, heat program coordinator of Cal/OSHA, says these sessions have lowered the death rate among outdoor employees.

"It does get hot. Last year we saw 73 heat illnesses across the state and we saw a fatality as well," says Hornung.

A landscaper in Bakersfield died of heat-related illness in August.

Cal/OSHA is also preparing a final draft on a proposal to protect indoor workers from heat as well.

Packing houses, warehouses, even bakeries could be impacted.

"If your workplace is over 87 degrees, then you have to take steps to control the heat. You have to provide water to your employees and you have to provide an area where you can cool down," said

But Cunha doesn't believe such a law is needed.

"I would say that is a rule with no basis. A rule with no findings. A rule that somebody at OSHA has nothing to do."

Cunha says no deaths have been reported among indoor workers.

But Cal/OSHA continues work on its final draft.
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