As we near the summer season, with its unforgiving high temperatures that have taken so many farmworkers’ lives, it’s critical we rally behind the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Water. Rest. Shade. Campaign. Through this initiative, the unnecessary loss of farmworkers’ lives could be prevented this summer.
It is important farmworkers, employers, and other stakeholders are aware of how water can prevent heat stress, illness, and even death in the field. The following are four key points we share on how water can save lives when working outside:
- Drink plenty of water before going to work
- While you are working, drink one quart of water in small quantities throughout each hour (this equals one cup of water every fifteen minutes)
- Drink BEFORE you get thirsty
- DO NOT drink alcohol, energy drinks, or soda, or use drugs; all of these substances make it easier for your body to lose water and increase your chance of heat exhaustion or heat stroke
It is also important agriculture workers, employers, and stakeholders understand OSHA’s standards for agricultural employers under the OSHA Act 1928.110. These are rules employers must follow to keep farmworkers safe, such as:
- Potable water shall be provided and placed in locations readily accessible to all employees
- Drinking water containers shall be constructed of materials that maintain water quality, shall be refilled daily or more often as necessary, shall be kept covered and shall be regularly cleaned
- The employer shall notify each employee of the location of the sanitation facilities and water and shall allow each employee reasonable opportunities during the workday to use them
We encourage employers and partners to provide lifesaving heat stress training through AFOP’s Proyecto Sol. Employers especially play key role, since they have the responsibility and to provide adequate drinking water for their employees. Training farmworkers in heat stress prevention can save lives! OSHA instructs farmworkers who feel these rights have been violated to contact them.
Please join Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, AFOP, growers, farmworkers, and other stakeholders in protecting farmworkers and preventing heat-related illnesses and deaths this year.
Don’t forget to keep hydrated this summer!