Ensuring Workers Brave the Summer Heat the Safe Way

By Alicia Criado, Policy Associate, Economic and Employment Policy Project, NCLR

cement masonAlthough the summer of 2013 is not quite over, it’s safe to say that it’s been HOT.  While some of us have the luxury of escaping the punishing heat for most of the day in air-conditioned homes and offices, many others do not, particularly outdoor workers and those in hot environments such as farms, warehouses, and construction, all Latino-dominant industries.  Every year, thousands of workers, particularly Latino workers, become sick from heat exposure, and, in some cases, die.  Even though workplace fatalities are on the decline, Latinos continue to be disproportionately vulnerable to death on the job.  But these illnesses and deaths are preventable.

In efforts to raise awareness about the need for increasing the health and safety of workers in the agriculture industry, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)* has launched a new outreach initiative to prevent heat illness in outdoor workers. 

Below is a list of some relevant OSHA outreach materials focusing on agricultural safety. Many of these web resources and tools are especially useful for employers to ensure their workers understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.

farmworker onions2Heat Illness Prevention

Publications, Guidance, and Training Documents

The prevention of heat stress in workers is important to the NCLR, given our commitment to foster safer and more healthful American workplaces.  OSHA’s new initiative increases our ability to provide our Affiliate Network with information, guidance, and access to health and safety training resources to reach low-wage, limited basic education, and other vulnerable worker populations in Latino-dominant industries such as agriculture.

*Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.  OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance.  For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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