With the first official day of summer around the corner, several areas of California are already experiencing triple-digit temperatures. Nonetheless, this does not excuse farm laborers from showing up to work in these conditions and working long hours in the blistering sun. Therefore, it is essential to have proper training and knowledge on what heat illness is and what it looks like.
First, it is crucial for employers to take the right steps to prevent any type of heat illness within the workplace. One of the biggest steps is making sure employees are educated on the signs of heat illness and know what to do if they are experiencing them. Some typical signs of heat exhaustion include, but are not limited to, vomiting, excessive sweating, dizziness, and irritability. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, President and CEO of AgSafe, Theresa Kiehn explains that the first thing to do is to remove yourself from the heat and speak with a supervisor.
Cal/OSHA requires all employers to provide water, shade, and the necessary training once the heat rises above 95 degrees. A heat illness prevention plan is also very important for the safety of employees and must be posted at the worksite at all times. This plan should be in writing, using English as well as the most used language amongst workers. Kiehn believes that educating workers on the plan is one of the most important steps to take. She states, “An ounce of prevention can go such a long way and, in this case, it really is worth it to spend that extra time ensuring your employees know what heat illness is and helping to prevent it.”
Kiehn details how to handle heat illness if it does occur and what effects COVID-19 has had on the issue in the full interview below.