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Avoiding heat-related workplace injuries on the farm

The temperatures are rising here in California, and many people remain outdoors while they perform their on-the-job duties. For instance, those who work on farms here in the state often spend long hours outside. The threat of heat-related workplace injuries needs to be addressed by employers and employees alike.

Most California employers take their responsibilities to workers seriously when it comes to heat-related illnesses. However, managers, supervisors and employees are all human, which means that costly mistakes could occur. It never hurts to run through the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's regulations regarding the matter.

As soon as outside temperatures hit about 80 degrees, employers are required to provide workers with shade as well as cool, pure and fresh water and emergency procedures should anyone exhibit the signs of a heat-related illness. Managers or supervisors should also monitor an employee who appears to be struggling with the heat. Additional measures pertain to situations where an employee is new, which means that he or she may not be appropriately acclimatized to the heat. Furthermore, once temperatures go above 85, the rules become stricter regarding how employers are to protect employees. If any of the required protections are lacking, workers have every right to let their employers know.

If an employer fails to rectify the situation, it may be necessary to take additional measures. In the event that farm workers suffer from heat-related illnesses -- or other workplace injuries -- workers' compensation benefits may be available to help with issues such as medical care and income lost during recovery. Obtaining benefits often comes with complications that could be more easily handled with the assistance of an attorney.

Source: agalert.com, "Commentary: Time for employers to prepare for high temperatures", Bryan Little, June 14, 2017

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