Worker Safety

Don’t Be Fooled, High Heat Will Return

Farm Employees Must Be Protected During High Temps

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The cool and rainy weather will eventually turn to higher temperature days, and when high heat returns to the Central Valley, it’s essential that farm employees are getting enough water, rest, and shade. Manuel Cunha, the President of the Nisei Farmers League in Fresno told California Ag Today that during hot days, we’ve got to protect employees.

“Training is the first important step to prevent heat illness,” Cunha said. “All employees and supervisors must know about heat illness prevention.”

Water is the next important step in preventing heat stress.

“Employers or supervisors must provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least one quart per hour—or four 8 ounces glasses per hour—and encourage them to do so,” Cunha said.

Manuel Cunha, President of the Nisei Farmers League, Fresno

Shade is the next critical step to prevent heat illness.

“Employees should have access to shade, and they should be encouraged to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes,” Cunha explained. “And employees should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.”

Finally, all ag employers must develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.

 Temperature Triggers

Shade shall be present when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The employer must maintain one or more areas with shade at all times while employees are present that are either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling.

The amount of shade present shall be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on recovery or rest periods so that they can sit in a healthy posture fully in the shade without having to be in physical contact with each other.

The amount of shade present during meal periods shall be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on the meal period who remain onsite.

The high-heat hazard temperature is 95 degrees or higher. This is when the employees must take a ten-minute preventative cool-down rest period every two hours. Often, farm operations will cease for the day and restart in the morning.

“Farmers, supervisors, packinghouses, farm labor contractors, all of these folks should have their Heat Action Plan ready, and all employers should be aware of it,” Cunha said. “They have to be ready to go, and that crew bosses, managers, foremen are making sure that the workers are getting shade and drinking plenty of water.”

If farm operations need to change their time schedules to accommodate the high temperatures, they need to implement that, as well as making sure that the workers take their proper breaks, and they have a meal.

“Lunchtime is very important for the workers to be nourished and strong,” Cunha said.

When employees are acclimating to the higher temperatures, a buddy system is essential.

“You want to make sure somebody isn’t sweating a lot or beginning to feel nauseated. As workers, they need to be looking out for each other as well. You cannot always depend on the crew boss seeing a problem,” Cunha explained.

Emergency Contacts

In some places, cell phones don’t work, so workers may have to have a two-way radio. Make sure there is a way to call 911 during an emergency. Make sure you have maps posted to where the employees are working, and all the workers know where they’re at.

“If something goes down, they need to call 911, the worker or crew boss needs to say where they’re at—the address, the location, the cross streets,” Cunha stressed.

“The location should be posted on a clipboard to make sure that you have the information there for those employees,” Cunha continued. “That’s very important, to know the procedures.”

“We want all employees to go home safe to their families every night. So farming operations must have heat illness prevention plans in place,” Cunha said.

Farm operations should be sure that a supervisor is in place in all fieldwork and that supervisor must have first aid and CPR training. And if the supervisor leaves the crew for any reason, they must make sure someone is in charge.

First aid and CPR are vital with our farm crews working in the fields or even in the construction industry. Farm labor contractors must be sure that field supervisors are licensed for first aid and CPR.

2019-05-28T17:20:06-07:00May 28th, 2019|

Heat Illness Prevention Event April 12 In Easton

Water, Rest and Shade for Heat Illness Prevention

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

On April 12, a coalition of agricultural organizations will hold two Heat Illness Prevention Sessions in Easton.

Manuel Cunha, Jr., President of Nisei Farmers League, said, “We appreciate the staff and the efforts of the Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA Consultation with their presentation of the safety message: WATER, REST, SHADE.”

Cunha continued, “the efforts by all our agricultural partners, as well as Cal/OSHA is to educate employers and supervisors about the dangers of working in the heat. We have held many educational sessions, sent out publications, had media events and continue to have ongoing outreach efforts throughout the state. Education is the key to reducing the number of heat illnesses that we see in our fields.”

Attend one of the sessions on April 12 for the latest documents outlining high heat procedures, including additional steps to be taken to ensure our employees’ safety.

Date: Friday, April 12, 2019

Time: Session One in Spanish 10:00 a.m. to noon. Session Two in English 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Place: C.P.D.E.S. Portuguese Hall, 172 W Jefferson Avenue, Easton.

There is no cost for attending these training sessions.

We want to thank our agricultural partners listed below: Nisei Farmers League, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Allied Grape Growers, California Fresh Fruit Association,  African America Farmers of Calif., American Pistachio Growers, California Apple Commission, California Blueberry Commission California Olive Growers Council and Sun-Maid Growers of California.

2019-04-10T16:38:37-07:00April 10th, 2019|

OSHA 300A Log Posting Due Feb. 1

OSHA Log Summary Must Be Posted in Common Areas

News Release from Western Growers Association

OSHA’s Form 300A logs with work-related injuries and illnesses occurring in the prior calendar year must be posted. All eligible employers are required to maintain and post an annual OSHA 300A summary sheet from February 1 to April 30.

February 1 marks the deadline for you to tabulate your annual OSHA Log Summary (OSHA Form 300A) and post it in a common area wherever notices to employees are usually posted. The summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous calendar year and were logged on the OSHA 300 Form. The summary should remain posted until April 30. Instructions on how to complete both the log and annual summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses can be downloaded for free from Cal/OSHA’s Record Keeping Overview. The definitions and requirements for recordable work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, sections 14300 through 14300.48. Employers are required to complete and post Form 300A even if no workplace injuries occurred.

Employers with 10 or less employees or who work in low-hazard industries are not required to post their summary. Additional details regarding eligibility for the exemption can be found on the OSHA Injury Tracking Application webpage.

Electronic Reporting Requirement

Additionally, many employers are required to also submit their OSHA 300A information electronically. The classes of business who must comply with the electronic reporting process include:

  1. Any business with at least 250 employees.
  2. Any business with 20 to 249 employees who falls into one of several classifications including agriculture. (A complete list of the affected classifications can be found here.)

Affected employers are advised to submit their 2018 OSHA 300A data through the Fed-OSHA portal by the March 2 deadline. Updates regarding the 300A reporting requirements can be found here.

For instructions regarding the electronic filing process, please see federal OSHA’s ITA website.

2019-02-01T16:55:33-08:00February 1st, 2019|

Heat Illness Prevention for Field Workers

Farmers Guard Their Most Valuable Asset

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

When temperatures are heating up, it’s important that growers are keeping farm employees safe to prevent exhaustion and heat-related illnesses and to ensure that their employees go home to their families at the end of the day.

On an average day, temperatures in fields can range from eight to 10 degrees hotter than the average temperature in the area.

“We try always to have a regular tailgate meeting to remind all of our farm employees about the hazards of working when temperatures are more than 80 degrees,” said Ron Samuelson, a Fresno County grower who produces almonds and cherries. “We educate our employees about the importance of drinking water, the emergency procedures if needed. And for increased prevention, we are in constant contact with the workers throughout the day.”

heat illness

Some type of shade must be available to field employees when temperatures reach 80 degrees.

Samuelson said that shade is essential once temperatures reach around 80 degrees and they make sure there is adequate shade in the morning if temperatures are going to get to that high.

“If field employees are in an almond orchard where there are mature trees, there is adequate \shade for them to sit and rest under a tree to cool down,” Samuelson explained. “And when the temperature begins to reach 100 degrees, it’s not uncommon for work to stop to give employees a break from the heat.”

“If temperatures go over 95 degrees, we employ other procedures. The first thing we would do is to talk to the guys to get their input as to what’s their thoughts on how soon they want to stop working for the day.”

“A lot of times, we’ll start a little bit earlier and knock off earlier. Then we take breaks more often as well. We try to maintain that, encourage them to drink at least a quart per hour throughout the day. We make sure they let us know if the water jugs are down to a gallon are less. That way we can get them refilled right away.”

Employee safety is paramount because it would be impossible for farmers to farm without them.

“So it’s essential to help them get through the day and avoid heat stress. At the end of the day, our employees matter most,” Samuelson said.

2018-06-05T16:29:47-07:00June 5th, 2018|

Pedestrian Orchards Will Reduce Injuries

Pedestrian Orchards in the Making

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Becky Phene with the University of California out of the Kearney ag center. She’s working alongside Kevin Day, UC tree fruit advisor in Tulare County, on development of pedestrian orchards.

“My background is irrigation. I got asked to participate in the pedestrian orchard with Kevin because he wanted to demonstrate multiple technologies that would be beneficial not just now, but in the future,” Phene said.

Day has combined his pedestrian orchard with subsurface drip irrigation. The pedestrian orchards are by design kept short so that there is no usage of ladders. Eliminating the usage of ladders can help prevent on the job accidents.

“The pruning lets the tree grow quickly and fill in as quickly as possible in the first couple of years, and then he develops the shape of the canopy and the shape of the leaders,” Phene said.

Photo by Kevin Day, UCANR Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, based in Tulare County.

2021-05-12T11:05:13-07:00March 14th, 2018|

Expert Talks Protecting Our Food Supply And Industry

Maintaining Food Safety – Part 2

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Continuing our series on food safety in the state of California, we spoke with Jon Kimble, Operations Business Development Manager at Safe Food Alliance, and he explained the need for worker awareness when it comes to protecting our food supply.

“Too often, we see these recalls on foods where people are getting ill. Many times, it gets tracked back to an employee. Somebody’s got a virus, somebody’s got a bacteria, they’re sick,” Kimble said. “They come in contact with the food while they’re ill, and that translates back to getting out in the food supply and making people sick.”

“That’s what we’re trying to minimize. In a practical sense, in cases where we’ve observed people getting sick from things, we track that back, see what the source is, and try and share that information with everybody so that they can minimize that from happening in the future,” Kimble explained.

There are economic implications to consider as well.

“It is really paramount to prevent not only economic damage to your own farm and your own business, but also an entire industry,” Kimble said. “We see [that] one bad apple affects the whole industry.”

“We’ve even seen situations, such as a few years ago ,where there were some contaminated peppers, but they suspected tomatoes initially. It impacted an entire year’s harvest of tomatoes,” Kimble said. “We want to minimize the damage to the industry, and how people protect their businesses legally, by doing the right thing.”

Buyers are also setting a higher standard of quality, in light of the new rule.

“The regulation does set a minimum requirement, but buyers, customers, purchasers are setting a higher standard,” Kimble said.

“We’re seeing that trickle down effect as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), that even folks who aren’t necessarily required to do certain things in their operation are being asked by their customers to do above and beyond what the regulation requires, and even in advance of their compliance dates for the regulation.”

“We’ve seen it both on the processing side and on the growing side, that customers are starting to raise their expectations for growers,” he said.

This is Part 2 of a 3 Part Series.

2017-09-02T23:13:09-07:00August 23rd, 2017|

Expert Emphasizes Farm Equipment Safety

Nut Harvest Safety – Part 4

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

On the job injuries are all too common in agriculture when working with tractors and other machinery. We spoke with Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, about the importance of farm equipment safety.

One big safety concern is unguarded PTO shafts and missing guards, which could also lead to a hefty fine. Checking these areas are part of the preseason inspections that should be done at harvest. Farmers should get out there and make sure everything is working properly.

Farm Equipment Safety

Paul Williams

“It is cheaper to repair equipment in the shop than it is trying to make the repairs in the field. Just proper maintenance and making sure things are properly guarded,” Williams said.

According to Williams, wearing seat belts while operating tractors is also extremely important. “Every year we get these fatalities operating tractors. Fifty fatalities a year maybe in tractors; they’re all so preventable,” he said.

“We are all used to driving cars in our California, wearing our seat belt. We get on farm equipment, all of the sudden we don’t know what that seat belt’s for anymore,” Williams said. “There are all kinds of excuses for not wearing a seat belt. At the end of the day, your safety is worth the extra three seconds it takes to put one on.”

Even if your tractor has rollover protection, it is very important to wear a seat belt as well. A lot of safety equipment is the cause of death when a worker does not wear their seat belt.

“They are ejected and tractors roll over and what kills the worker? It is that rollover protection that crushes them into the ground,” Williams explained.

Many workers rush because they think that it makes them more efficient. If you are being rushed, you are putting yourself at risk.

“The whole idea at the end of the day is to go home to your family, safe. Be able to return the next day to your work. You should always work to provide, to live, not live to work,” Williams said.

2017-09-02T23:21:23-07:00August 17th, 2017|

Farm Safety is Critically Important

Nut Harvest Safety – Part 3

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Farm safety is extremely important. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the farming industry saw about 600 fatalities across the country last year. More than 200 laborers are injured in the U.S. on a daily basis. Many of these injuries result in permanent disability.

Paul Williams

Safety is not just important on the road; electrical safety is also a hot topic, noted Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant for State Compensation Insurance Fund.

“We always talk about lock-out, tag-out, chocking and blocking tires, and before you make any repairs, making sure that equipment is shut off, and then doing repairs in the field,” he said.

Yet, many people are lost every year at harvest when they decide to make repairs in the field with just a quick adjustment.

“Sometimes people are in a hurry, they’re impatient, they’re tired, maybe fatigue sets in there; too easy to get caught in moving parts,” Williams said.

Although many ranchers have mechanics they go to, some choose to ‘fix’ the problem themselves.

“It’s the seasonal guys, the guys that aren’t trained, they’re trying to do good work but they try to do things they’re not trained to do. … This is why many ranchers stress that employees not be afraid to ask for help,” Williams said.

For more information on safety on the farm, go to: http://www.agsafe.org/

2017-09-02T23:48:01-07:00August 9th, 2017|

Seat Belts Important to Farm Worker Safety

Year-Round Nut Harvest Safety –  Part 2

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Safety should be top priority on farms, especially during harvest. Most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery and a busy atmosphere like harvest creates many opportunities for injury. However, farm worker safety is important year round. Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, talked to California Ag Today about the topic.

“Some things like wearing seat belts is critical. All the new farm equipment has seat belts, and workers should be encouraged to wear the seat belts because if they are unfortunate enough to get rear ended, that seat belt’s going to keep them in the equipment. You’re not going to get ejected out onto the road,” Williams said.

“A lot of it’s just simple common sense, but the whole idea of doing these before harvest is to remind people, that they are getting ready to enter a busy time of the year. And fatigue is always a factor when you’re working six days a week, 10-12 hours a day. It’s just natural that you get tired, and when you’re tired, you don’t always think clearly,” he said.

“Worker reaction times are slower so we just want to remind people, about safe work practices to follow. And they are good to follow year-round,” Williams noted.

It’s also important to consider safety when riding from one area of the farm to another.

“If there is not a seat and a seat belt, then there should not be a rider. And it does not matter if it is a tractor or bin trailer or a tractor pulling irrigation pipe,” Williams said.

“We’re all basically lazy; none of us like to walk any further than we have to. We don’t see any harm in hitching a ride, but we have a number of fatalities and serious injuries on California farms every year. We have way too many accidents occur where people are passengers on bin trailers and harvest, whether it’s in the vineyards or in the orchards.

“People jumping on a bin trailer where a tractor driver up front may be making a sharp turn to get out of a row. A lot of times there can be pinch points and that’s where people get pinched between that part of the trailer or that bin that they can’t always see. It’s a very dangerous place to be because all it takes is one bump, one hole in the ground or a rough spot to cause someone to be bounced off the tractor.

“The worst injury we see is not so much being bounced off, but just being caught in between row end or the poles at the end of a vineyard,” Williams said.

For more information on safety on the farm, go to: http://www.agsafe.org/

2017-09-03T00:23:27-07:00August 9th, 2017|

Worker Safety During Nut Harvest – Part 1

Nut Harvest Safety –  Part 1

By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

Safety is very important, especially when working with heavy machinery. As most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery, farm safety begins with educating and preparing workers for emergency situations, and making them aware of hazards. California Ag Today interviewed Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, regarding nut harvest safety.

“The hazards are primarily with walnuts and almonds. They tend to stir up more dust in the harvest process,” Williams said. “There are respiratory issues that employees need to be protected from.”

“There’s also a need for hearing protection with any type of farm equipment. A lot of times, you’re sitting there all day at elevated levels of noise – there’s potential for hearing loss. Hearing loss is often overlooked because it’s slow acting, but it can have a huge effect on workers lives down the road,” Williams explained. “It’s important to be aware of it as a factor, and we talking about it as one season, probably not going to be any noticeable … you do that for 20 and 30 seasons, and you’re not able to understand your grandchildren when they talk to you. It’s one of those things that sneaks up on you.”

Williams said there are also a lot of safety issues with farm equipment and transportation. “You’re driving a slow-moving vehicle down a county road at 10 miles an hour, and you’ve got impatient drivers who want to pass you. Many drivers are not paying attention at all and they rear-end your equipment,” Williams said. That happened in Kingsburg a couple weeks ago.

This is always a danger whenever you’re transporting harvesting equipment or any kind of farm equipment on a county road. “It’s always nice if you have a pilot car; it’s always nice if you have a truck behind with their flashers on, trying to control traffic and periodically being a good neighbor and pulling over and letting traffic get by you when that’s possible,” Williams said.

For more information on safety on the farm, go to: http://www.agsafe.org/

2017-09-02T23:57:46-07:00August 7th, 2017|
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