The National Safety Council’s 2009 edition of Injury Facts ranked agriculture as our nation’s most dangerous industry with 28.6 deaths per 100,000 adult workers. Agricultural workers have a heat-related death rate 20 times greater than the general American workforce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1992-2006, 102 agricultural workers died in the U.S. as a result of heat-related illnesses. While these facts are very real—and very scary—together, we can do something to prevent farmworker deaths. Since last year, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health & Safety Administration, alongside many other organizations and employers, have taken a step toward making the workplace safer for farmworkers during the summer months by celebrating Heat Stress Awareness Week.
Few regulations exist for occupational heat stress prevention. Recognizing this gap, AFOP works to inform farmworkers and employers about the benefits of prevention and appropriate first aid response through our free heat-stress prevention program, Proyecto Sol. The Proyecto Sol trainers educate the farmworkers on the hazards of working in the heat and offer information on how they can protect themselves while working.
To further garner awareness on this issue during National Heat Stress Awareness Week with the Department of Labor, AFOP reached out to our heat stress trainers to participate in a heat stress training marathon. Between April 23-April 27, AFOP trainers will reach the goal of training 800 farmworkers all around the country. Trainers in many places, including North Carolina, California, and Puerto Rico have pledged to do their part in informing farmworkers on heat stress prevention.
Check out our facebook page to keep track of how many farmworkers are trained every day- with our heat stress thermometer. Follow us in twitter @AFOPHealth to stay informed. We will post the results of our Heat Stress Training Marathon on the last day of Heat Stress Awareness Week, on April 27.