High heat impacting Valley farmworkers

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- This week's triple digit heat is already having an impact on some farming operations in the Valley.

The time was twelve o clock and the sun was beating down. The table grape workers near Tulare were told they had to go home.

"If we work eight hours it's good for us, but whenever it's hot, there's no way we can do it," said Rosa Velasco, fieldworker crew boss.

Velasco said rarely do people get sick in the fields owned by Sundale Vineyards. Probably because they work so hard to prevent heat illness before it strikes.

"Yeah, whenever they need a break, whenever they feel like dehydrated or something, we come and bring them to the shade. Sit over here, as long a time as they need it," said --

And if they're still feeling sick, Velasco said they'll call a supervisor and they'll go see a doctor.

Under CalOSHA regulations, employers and supervisors need to know the symptoms of heat illness and have a heat program in place.

In high heat, meaning 95 degrees or above, workers should use a buddy system to check in with each other, or may be monitored by a supervisor. Like a man named Reyn Rocetes at Sundale Vineyards.

"Yeah, drink water and then they take a rest."

Farmworkers must take a 10-minute break every two hours and they're always entitled to cool, clean water and shade.

Tuesday, the workers took one last long sip before going home.

According to the California Table Grape Commission, last year, growers harvested their third largest crop ever, valued at $1.8 billion.
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