As the nation experiences a summer of extreme heat, Equitable Food Initiative, the capacity-building and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers, and consumer groups, is raising awareness about the dangers and symptoms of heat and sun exposure and providing a downloadable tip sheet for workers and farming operations, which is available in English and Spanish here.
According to the National Institutes of Health, agriculture workers are some of the most vulnerable to sun and heat exposure due to long hours worked during the hottest days of the year, and they are at least 35 times more likely to die of heat than other workers.
With production and harvest often occurring between the months of April and September, agriculture workers need to know how to protect themselves from heat and sun exposure and the symptoms of heat-related stress and illness. “The statistics are staggering,” stated LeAnne Ruzzamenti, director of marketing and communications for EFI. “Keeping our agriculture workers safe year-round is a priority, and employers need to take special steps during the busiest and hottest time of the year to ensure that.”
The risks of exposure to the elements can include sunburn, burns from hot equipment, and dizziness from heat, leading to falls or other accidents. Common symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion can include headaches, dizziness, heavy sweating, and muscle cramps or pain. “The recent news of workers suffering heat-related illnesses and death should be a concern for everyone,” Ruzzamenti remarked. “Our farmworkers are the most vital link to our food supply.”