Breaking 95 Degrees!

heat picThe month of May is almost behind us and the weather has been rather friendly.  At the time of composing this article the current morning temperature, according to the National Weather Service, is approximately 55°F, possibly peaking at 75°F for the day.  These mild temperatures will soon come to an end as we look further into the forecast.  The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures to reach above 95°F by Memorial Day.

For the first time this year the Central Valley is expected to experience temperatures at or above 95°F.  Those involved in agriculture understand that these abrupt temperature hikes can impact business practices, investments, and the health of employees.  To secure employees’ health, Cal Ag Safety wants to remind you of Cal-OSHA’s heat illness prevention requirements, and more specifically highlight the high heat procedures requirements for outdoor agricultural employees.  Agricultural employers are expected to comply with the following heat illness prevention requirements when temperatures reach at least 80°F:

Acclimatization:  implement procedures to allow employees sufficient time to adjust to the workplace conditions, modify the work schedule, and assignments.

Training:  all employees and supervisors must be trained to recognize personal and environmental factors that can contribute to heat illnesses as well as how to identify heat illness signs and symptoms prevent heat-related illnesses from occurring, and how to respond to an emergency.

Water:  encourage employees to drink water frequently.  Employers are required to provide 1 quart of fresh portable drinking water per employee for every work hour, and the water must be readily available.  Container for carrying water must be clean, and refill procedures outlined for employees to follow.

Shade: a safe area with protective covering from the sunrays must be provided.   Shade can be artificial (easy up) or natural (trees).  The shade must be accessible, hazard-free and away from portable restrooms.

Rest:  rest periods to cool down must be permitted for employees to prevent heat related illness.

Written Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP):  a written plan that describes measures to prevent and respond to heat illness emergencies must be developed, including first aid.

These guidelines are a review of the regulation and accommodate regulation requirements for temperatures under 95°F.  Additional heat illness prevention measures must be implemented for high heat waves.  High heat procedures must be followed when the temperature reaches 95°F or above.  High heat procedures include:

  • Constant effective communication with employees
  • Observe employees for alertness
  • Incorporate one or more of the following procedures:
    1. Supervisor or designee oversee 20 or fewer employees
    2. Buddy System
    3. Regular communication (radio or cellular phone)
    4. Other effective means of communication
    5. Give more frequent reminders to drink water
  • Hold pre-shift meetings on prevention
  • Ensure employees take a minimum 10 minute preventative cool down rest period for every 2 hours worked when the workplace conditions reach and exceed 95°F. This cool down rest break can run concurrent with company-implemented breaks.

Please, refer to your Cal Ag Safety consultant for assistance with your Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP):  Ann Curtoni-Lial (209) 351-0321; or Raul Murguia (209) 351-0609.

Get Ready for the Rising Temperatures

pikkkkSpring is here and so is gradual rise in temperature.  A quick look at this week’s weather forecast reveals temperatures oscillating between the high 70s and low 80s degrees Fahrenheit.  Why is this important?  Well, Cal-OSHA requires the development and implementation of a heat illness prevention program (HIPP) for employees in agriculture, as well as other industries, when the temperature reaches at least 80°F.

A heat illness prevention plan (HIPP) is an indispensable component of every Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP), a written safety program required of all employers.

A good HIPP conforms to Cal-OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.  The Standard requires access to water and shade, weather monitoring and acclimatization, high heat procedures, employee and supervisory training, and written procedures including emergency response.

Briefly, fresh potable drinking water must be provided by the employer.  One quart of fresh potable water must be readily accessible per employee per each hour of work, or the equivalent of at least 2 gallons of fresh water for an 8 hour work shift.  Arrangements for additional water must be made for longer work periods.  Employees must also be instructed on how to replenish their water supply, keep water containers clean at all times, and encouraged to drink water throughout the day.

Access to adequate shade must also be available for employees when the temperature reaches 80°F, or and when requested by employees even if the temperature is below the regulation requirement.  Shaded resting areas such as artificial structures (easy-ups) or natural structures (trees) must be hazard-free and away from portable toilets.  In the case of artificial structures, employees must be discouraged to sit directly on the ground to minimize the exposure to possible pesticide residues, wet/damp ground conditions, and the heat from the ground.

Rest periods may vary depending on how employees respond to the heat and the work activities they are performing during a heat wave.  However, a ten minute cool down rest is mandatory after two-hour working intervals if the temperature is 95°F or above.  This cool down rest can be taken concurrently with company-implemented breaks.   Employees should also be discouraged from resting under equipment.

Written procedures including emergency response is required and must be available when requested.  These procedures includes operation-specific details; including, written proof of employee and supervisor training, and written instructions and map/s from the employees’ worksite/s to the nearest medical facility.

Lastly, if you need a Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP) or Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) call your Cal Ag Safety consultants:  Ann Curtoni-Lial (209) 351-0321; or Raul Murguia (209) 351-0609.

We look forward to visiting your place of work,

Cal Ag Safety


Cal Ag Safety Annual Pesticide Handler and Respirator Fit Testing

Cal Ag Safety will again be offering several end-of-year opportunities to obtain continuing education (CE) hours for your DPR license. We are also kicking off our Annual Pesticide Handler Training and Respirator FitTesting programs. A schedule of these follows – we’ve also included other CE opportunities that Cal Ag Safety is participating in as well as upcoming County Grower Meetings. (Please contact Ann Curtoni- Lial at 209-351-0321 to reserve your spot)


Cal Ag Safety Annual Pesticide Handler and Respirator Fit Testing

All session – 8 AM to Noon

3 CE hours (you can attend only one meeting for hours)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017      Escalon Sportsman’s Club- Escalon

Wednesday, January 10, 2018           Harvest Hall – Stanislaus County Agriculture                                                                                                    Department- Modesto

Thursday, January 18, 2018               3rd Street Community Center- Hughson

Thursday, January 25, 2018               Pioneer Hall- Livingston

Thursday, February 1, 2018               Westley Fire House- Westley

Wednesday, February 28, 2018         Escalon Sportsman’s Club- Escalon

Thursday, March 15, 2018                 Linden Lion’s Club- Linden




Harvest Safety Tips

Harvest season is in full swing throughout our state.  Locally, tell-tale signs are abundant all around us:  cars packed with people carpooling to work, semi-trailer trucks hauling sets of doubles filled with tomatoes, dust rising from almond orchards, and lights inside of vineyards.  These signs are also indicative to the different types of harvest equipment used.  The combination of highly mechanized equipment, employees’ level of expertise, long work hours, fatigue and other factors could contribute to serious to deadly accidents.

Thus, Cal Ag Safety would like to invite you to consider the following suggestions in preparation and execution of a safe harvest:

  • Employee safety training: take time to assess employees’ abilities.  Train all employees to equipment they will be operating and to hazards at the worksite.  Document and archive all safety training meetings, even tailgate sessions.
  • Heat illness prevention: have available a heat illness prevention plan (HIPP) that meets Cal-OSHA requirements.  Briefly, it should outline operation-specific details regarding access to water, shade, and rest.  The HIPP must be available upon request.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): provide and encourage employees to wear personal protective equipment.  For instance, noise cancelling devices such as earplugs or ear muffs can be used to promote hearing conservation.   Similarly, nuisance dust masks and NIOSH-approved particulate respirators, such as N95, could be worn to filter out dust particles even when exposure levels are below exposure limits.  Though not required by regulation, high visibility vests are especially useful during night work.
  • Accident prevention and energy release controls: mitigate equipment hazards by conducting pre-use inspection, communicating equipment anomalies to indicated persons, and correcting the hazards immediately.  In addition, instruct employees to conduct equipment maintenance, repairs, and remove entanglements only when the machine has been turned off and its moving parts have come to a complete stop.  Employees not operating equipment should remain visible at all times and away from machinery.   Furthermore, lockout/tagout safety plans should be used to prevent unexpected release of energy.
  • Extended hours and unusual hours: carefully monitor employees’ physical and mental response to the weather, long work hours, and changes to normal work schedule.  Irrespective of the worksite, ensure there is sufficient lighting forward and behind.  Lastly, pay particular attention to employees where night work is a critical point of production, such as hullers/shellers and grape harvesters.
  • Night work emergency plan: provide precise instructions on how to handle accidents requiring medical services during night work; including selecting responsible employees to assist with its implementation, outlining emergency medical care information (name, address, and telephone to medical facility), and having at least one first aid/cpr certified employee on site capable of providing basic medical assistance.
  • Injuries: report any illness or injury to the appropriate person right away.
  • Documentation: Cal-OSHA requires operations have and maintain safety plans (for example HIPP, lockout/tagout, confined space, fire safety, emergency evacuation, and others).  These safety plans and verification of employee safety training must be archived in an injury and illness prevention plan (IIPP).

Completing an injury-free harvest season is never simply the result of “good luck”.  Rather, it is the reward of diligent harvest preparations; daily pre-use equipment inspections, employee safety training.

Have a safe harvest!

High Heat Alert!!!

High Heat Alert!!!

High temperatures are definitely here.  In fact, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued extreme heat alerts for the Southwest region, including California.  These temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degree mark throughout the state for the next week.  This is the first extreme heat wave of the year after weeks of fluctuating temperatures.  Your employees, new and current, may not be entirely acclimatized and ready to sustain this sudden heat rise.  Therefore, it is crucial that you are prepared to ensure their safety during work hours, be it day or night.

As a reminder, state regulation requires employers to meet the following heat illness prevention requirements for outdoor workers:

  • Train all employees and supervisors in heat illness prevention to recognize heat-related signs/symptoms and illnesses.
  • Provide 1 quart of fresh potable drinking water per hour to each employee and encourage them to drink it throughout the work day. Water needs to be within practicable distance from work area, and workers must know how to refill their water supply.
  • Provide adequate shade for all employees when the temperature will reach at least 80°F. It must be located as close as possible to where employees are.  Employees are permitted a minimum 5 minute break to prevent injuries from heat stress.
  • Have an emergency response plan that includes contact information to emergency medical services. Emergency medical services can be activated when an employee displays signs and symptoms of heat stress.
  • Develop and implement a written heat illness prevention plan to meet Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Plan.

Cal Ag Safety encourages you to implement high heat procedures to get through the next several days.  High heat procedures go into effect when the temperature reaches 95° F or higher.  These include:

  • Employee access to effective communication
  • Observing employees for alertness and signs and symptoms of heat illness by implementing one or more of the following:
    1. Supervisory or designee observation of 20 or fewer employees
    2. Buddy System
    3. Regular communication (radio or cellular phone)
    4. Other effective means of communication
    5. Give more frequent reminders to drink water
  • Holding pre-shift meetings on prevention
  • Ensuring employees take a minimum 10 minute preventative cool down rest period every 2 hours. This cool down rest break can be run concurrent with company-implemented breaks.

Please, refer to your Cal Ag Safety consultant for assistance with your Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP):  Ann Curtoni-Lial (209) 351-0321; or Raul Murguia (209) 351-0609.



High Temperatures are Approaching

Heat pictureCal Ag Safety would like to remind you that it is time to prepare your team for the approaching rising temperatures.  This means contacting your consultant to schedule heat illness prevention training for your employees and supervisors.  As many of you may recall, heat-related illness prevention training is required by Cal/OSHA for multiple industries including our own, agriculture.  This is an essential component in every safety program, especially your Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP).

Meeting this training requirement is very attainable and should include four main components: Continue reading

Continuing Education & Pesticide Training opportunities just around the corner

Cal Ag Safety will again be offering several end-of-year opportunities to obtain continuing education (CE) hours for your DPR license. We are also kicking off our Annual Pesticide Handler Training and Respirator FitTesting programs. A schedule of these follows – we’ve also included other CE opportunities that Cal Ag Safety is participating in as well as upcoming County Grower Meetings.


Cal Ag Safety Annual Pesticide Handler and Respirator FitTesting

All session – 8 am to noon, call Cal Ag Safety to sign up

3 CE hours (you can attend only one meeting for hours)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017          Stanislaus County Ag Center – Modesto

Thursday, January 19, 2017               Hughson Community Service Center

Thursday, January 26, 2017               Livingston United Methodist Church

Thursday, February 2, 2017                Westley Fire House

Thursday, March 2, 2017                   Escalon Sportsman Club

Thursday, March 16, 2017                 Linden Lions Club





Ongoing Harvest Concerns

Perhaps some of you are halfway through harvest by now and sometimes in the rush to complete the job we tend to forget our safety and well-being. During harvest we have to be constantly aware of all hazards and potential obstacles.

Some obstacles we encounter during harvest are extended shifts, climate conditions, ditches, canals, and power poles. In order to avoid all of these hazards operators must be attentive and focused. Accidents do occur while harvesting unfortunately as in the case out of Huron, CA that occurred just a few weeks ago:

“A 21-year-old farmworker died Thursday while operating an almond harvesting machine in Huron, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. A farmworker contacted the sheriff’s office stating that one of his co-workers was injured while working in an almond orchard near Highway 198 and Lassen Avenue. Deputies found thongoing-harvest-concernse victim seated in a machine that picks up almonds in the field. While operating the machinery, the man struck an electrical pole and then hit a tree.”-The Fresno Bee

In a situation where your piece of equipment touches a power line PG&E recommends these steps. Sound the horn, roll down your window and call for help. Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around your equipment can be injured. Use your mobile phone to call 911. Wait until the fire department, police or PG&E workers tell you it’s safe to get out of your equipment before exiting the vehicle.

If your equipment is in contact with a fallen power line and a fire starts, follow these guidelines when exiting your vehicle: Remove loose items of clothing. Keep your hands at your sides and jump clear off the vehicle, so you are not touching the equipment when your feet hit the ground. Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet. Ensure hands are kept on your sides as you are shuffling away.

Traffic hazards and accidents are all too common in the farming industry. Distracted operators, whether they are on the cell phone checking text messages or making business calls, these risky behaviors just add to the mix.

Always remember to keep safety in mind on this last stretch of the harvest season.

Extended Unusual Work Shifts

Harvest season is well under way. As we drive down the roads it’s hard not to notice all the trucks carrying commodities of tomatoes, grapes, almonds and walnuts, and more. A successful harvest is always the ultimate goal for those involved in farming. Along with harvest time comes longer hours and changes in normal work shifts.

Extended or unusual work shifts can be more stressful physically, mentally, and emotionally. Leading to increased fatigue, stress, and lack of concentration. These effects can increase risk of near misses, poor judgment, and accidents.

Fatigue is a sign letting the body know it’s time to rest. If rest is not possible, fatigue can increase until it becomes distressing and eventually weakening. The symptoms of mental and physical vary from person to person. Here are some signs/symptoms to look for in yourself and co-workers.

  • sleepiness
  • irritability
  • reduced alertness extended-unusual-work-shifts-2
  • lack of concentration and memory
  • lack of motivation
  • depression
  • headache

Addressing these risks

When possible supervisors should limit the use of extended shifts and increase the number of days employees work. Working shifts longer than 8 hours, which can be hard to avoid this time of year, will generally result in reduced productivity and alertness. Duties that require heavy physical labor or intense concentration should be performed at the beginning of the shift if possible.

Supervisors should be able to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms associated with extended and unusual work shifts. Employees working extended or irregular shifts should be monitored for the signs and symptoms of fatigue.

It is recommended for employees to maintain a normal healthy diet and obtain sufficient rest to decrease stress caused during the harvest season.