Dr. Marc Schenker recognizes California is ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to heat illness prevention, but more can be done. Schenker runs the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. He spoke in a webinar this week.
Like soldiers and athletes, farmworkers experience the most cases for heat stress, yet are the least protected and often go without immediate treatment, he said. Many cases involve farmworkers new to the job and not yet acclimated to working in the heat.
Cal/OSHA requires breaks when it hits 95 degrees, but workers can be at increased risk at 90 degrees under heavy work, he said. Piece rate work also increases the metabolic workload and heat risk.
Schenker called it “sad” there's no national standard, but recognized the complexity. “It's not a simple approach,” he said, in urging more engineering, education and enforcement.
Top photo: UC Davis Professor Marc Schenker (courtesy UC Davis)