Tailgate Training Card 10: Heat Stress

This California Department of Public Health training aid says the best way to prevent heat stress is to keep your body cool by drinking plenty of water and taking breaks to cool off when needed.

Heat illnesses can happen during any season of the year, but summer is when heat makes headlines and does the most harm. Deaths among agricultural workers in Califrornia prompted new regulations there that require rest breaks and adequate water supplies. Authorities in California have been advising agricultural employers, construction employers, and other managers ot ensure they take heat stress factors and symptoms into account.

"As you know, the temperature is high today and we need to think about how we can protect ourselves and our coworkers from heat stress," the "Safety Break" document from the California Department of Public Health states in its introduction. "There are 2 types of heat stress that affect our health: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both are dangerous, but heat stroke is deadly. The best way to prevent heat stress is to keep our bodies cool by drinking plenty of water and taking breaks to cool off when needed."

The guide asks employers to talk with work crews at the start of the shift about safeguards and how the work will be scheduled; the heaviest work should be done in the early morning or late afternoon, when it is coolest. Workers should pair off, with each worker in each pair being responsible for watching out for his/her partner and ensure the partner drinks plenty of water and takes cooling breaks, it says.

The guide lists symptoms and treatment procedures to follow in cases of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

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