Preventing Heat Stress in Agriculture
There are numerous precautions that employers can take against heat stress. For example:
Training. Train workers and supervisors on how to control heat stress and to recognize symptoms of heat illness.
Monitoring and Adjusting Workloads. Take into account the weather, workload, and condition of the workers, and adjust work practices accordingly. Higher temperatures, high humidity, direct sun, heavy workloads, older workers, and workers unaccustomed to heat are more likely to become ill from heat.
Here are things to do:
- Monitor temperature and humidity, and workers' responses at least hourly in hot environments.
- Schedule heavy work and tasks requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) for the cooler hours of the day.
- Acclimatize workers gradually to hot temperatures.
- Shorten the length of work periods and increase the length of rest periods.
- Give workers shade or cooling during breaks.
- Halt work altogether under extreme conditions.
Drinking. Make sure employees drink at least the minimum required amounts of water to replace body fluid lost through sweating. Thirst does not give a good indication of how much water a person needs to drink.
Know the difference between heat stress and pesticide poisoning. Review the information in the table comparing symptoms of heat exhaustion and exposure to organophosphate and carbamate pesticides.