Summer is coming, and temperatures are rising to levels of concern for heat illness for farm employees. “Weather forecasts are looking at highly increased temperatures in the coming weeks,” shared Manuel Cunha, Jr., President of Nisei Farmers League. “In some areas, an increase of more than 20 degrees than what we are used to at this time of the year. Please follow the important rules for being sure your employees are safe.”
Cunha emphasized the need for adequate shade and rest, water, training and an emergency plan. It’s also critical to know and comply with recent changes to regulations regarding heat illness prevention, as follows:
o Plan for new hires who will be exposed to heat to which the employee’s and body hasn’t yet adjusted.
o New employees must be closely observed for their first two weeks on the job.
o Allow employees to properly acclimate to high heat temperatures.
o Supervisors must be extra vigilant with new employees and stay alert to the presence of heat related symptoms.
o New employees will be assigned a buddy to closely watch for discomfort or symptoms of heat illness.
o Must be made available to 100% of the employees on rest breaks or meal periods when temperatures equal or exceed 80 degrees (NFL recommends to have shade available at the start of the day)
o May be provided by any natural or artificial means (ex: trees or vines that allow for workers to sit under comfortably is sufficient)
o If providing shade tents, shade tents should provide enough shade so that a person can sit in a normal posture fully in shade without being in physical contact with another worker.
o Must be fresh, pure, and suitably cool.
o Shall be located as close as practicable to the area where employees are working. (NFL recommends you provide a water station at shade area)
o Have a replenishment plan in writing.
Ø High Heat Procedures (triggered at 95 degrees):
o Encourage employees to take rest periods.
o Monitor employees during recovery and develop a buddy system
o Be sure crews are manageable (ex: 20 workers per crew)
o If possible, change work schedule to adjust to the temperature.
o You will be required to take a 10 minute paid break every two hours. You will need to record all breaks.
For more information, visit Cal/OSHA website: http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/dosh_publications/ESPHIP.pdf