Reminder During High Heat & Wildfire Conditions

July 09, 2018
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Temperatures have been exceeding 80°F in strawberry growing regions along the Central Coast this week. The dry, hot conditions have also brought wildfires. Cal/OSHA has issued advisories related to preventing hazards associated with heat illness and smoke.

Heat Illness Prevention:
California employers are always required by state law to take the following steps to prevent heat illness for employees working outdoors:

  1. Planning: Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard. Written plans need to be in proximity to crews in a language most are comfortable communicating. Sample procedures can be found here in English: http://link.calstrawberry.com/9bcca and Spanish: http://link.calstrawberry.com/9be78.
  2. Water: Provide enough fresh drinking water for each employee to drink 8-ounces of water every 15 minutes and encourage them to do so.
  3. Shade: Provide access to shade which can include a vehicle running with a functional air conditioner.
  4. Rest: Encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
  5. Training: Train all employees and supervisors about the need to hydrate, cool down and rest.

Additional measures must be implemented should heat reaches specific temperatures thresholds:

  • Employers must provide shade at the worksite to cover all agricultural employees at any moment. Shade is defined as an area where one cannot cast a shadow.
  • 80°F or above: Also, during temperatures of 80°F or more, employers are advised to conduct tailgate meetings at the start of work to review with employees the importance of drinking water, heat recovery rest periods and the signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  • 95°F or above: High heat procedures include effective communication, observation and monitoring, a mandatory buddy system and regular communication with employees working alone. During a high heat period, agricultural employees must be provided with a minimum 10-minute cool down period every two hours. Additional ten-minute cool-down rest is needed at end of the 8th and 10th hour of work.

For additional information and materials on Heat Illness Prevention please refer to the Department of Industrial Relations new release: http://link.calstrawberry.com/f4172 and the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Website: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html.

Air Quality & Wildfire Prevention:

Smoke associated with wildfires can be hazardous to outdoor workers. Cal/OSHA has issued specific guidance in their latest advisory: http://link.calstrawberry.com/68fcc. Strawberry employers are encouraged to customize and incorporate the recommended Standard Operating Procedure: http://link.calstrawberry.com/0c1de into your Illness & Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) to ensure administrative controls and appropriate employee training.

To monitor local air quality conditions, refer to https://airnow.gov/.

To view National Weather Service data in your specific area, visit: http://www.weather.gov/.