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Farmworkers staying protected while temperatures rise

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV): Farmworkers along the Central Coast are protecting themselves against the rising heat.

A group of farmworkers outside of Salinas started work at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday so that they don't have to work in scorching temperatures. Delia Moran, who has been a farmworker for more than 12 years, said working in the fields when it's hot is not easy.

"Well, during the course of the day when you go to work, you start getting headaches because of the heat." said Moran.

Moran said that throughout the years of her working in the fields when it's hot, she's seen a lot of unfortunate things happen to people.

"One time a girl went to the bathroom and didn't come out anymore, and another time a girl fell and she had high blood pressure and she started to get very agitated," said Moran.

To prevent those things from happening to other farmworkers, CALOSHA has regulations for outdoor workplaces. They require employers to take steps to prevent heat illness.

Those requirements include providing water, shade and rest. Something that Moran and her co-workers definitely do.

Delia's supervisor said when they work in high temperatures, they are supposed to take 15-minute breaks every two-and-a-half hours. When the temperature gets above 85 degrees, they take a break or will even stop working.

"Practically, we have trainings where they inform us what to do in case of a high temperature," said Enrique Santoyo, Moran's supervisor.

The Biden Administration proposed a new rule on Tuesday to address excessive heat in the workplace. The Associated Press said this measure comes as tens of millions of Americans are under heat advisories.

If finalized, the measure would help to protect workers from injuries related to heat exposure on the job, establishing the first major federal standard.​ For people like Santoyo, he thinks more needs to be done for farmworkers, like building better quality housing.

"There are so many people who live in critical conditions, in unstable conditions, in conditions that you can't be living in," said Santoyo.

The Associated Press also said in 2023 an estimated 2,300 people nationwide died from heat-related illnesses.

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Nataly Gutierrez


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