Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Field workers, farm owners, and buyers band together to protect workers from heat » Yale Climate Connections


For farmworkers, toiling outside in the summer heat can be dangerous. Extreme heat can lead to headaches, dizziness, and even death. And as the climate warms, the risks will grow.

Espinoza: “We all know that record-breaking temperatures are now becoming much more common.”

Judge Laura Safer Espinoza helps run the Fair Food Program, a partnership between workers, growers, and more than a dozen large food buyers.

The program protects thousands of workers on participating farms from workplace hazards while defending their wages and rights. A few years ago, it added protections against heat stress.

From April to November, farmworkers now have to take breaks every two hours. Espinoza says the mandate prevents people from feeling pressured to keep working even when they need to cool down.

Espinoza: “This requires everyone across the field to stop and to rest, to hydrate.”

Supervisors also have to watch for any workers who show signs of heat illness and provide them with immediate relief.

As the risk of extreme heat grows, these heat stress protections will help keep the workers who are covered by the Fair Food Program safe.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media


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