Practical Winery
65 Mitchell Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94903
phone: 415-453-9700 ext 102
email: Office@practicalwinery.com
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July/August 2009
EMPLOYEE SAFETY
  • Importance of acclimatization;
  • Common signs and symptoms of different heat illnesses;
  • Importance of immediately reporting to employer, directly or through a supervisor, signs of heat illness in self or co-workers;
  • Employer’s procedures for responding to symptoms;
  • Employer’s procedures for contacting and transporting to emergency medical care;
  • Employer’s procedures for clearly directing emergency responders to the worksite;
  • Employer’s other procedures for complying with this standard.
Supervisors also must know:
  • Procedures to follow in implementing the heat illness prevention plan;
  • Procedures to follow in responding to employee symptoms of possible heat illness.
Documentation of compliance and response procedures is to be made available to employees and enforcement personnel upon request. It may be kept as a stand-alone policy but probably is best integrated into the employer’s overall injury and illness prevention program.
Cal/OSHA has stepped up its efforts to inform employers about and enfoce heat illness prevention rules. From January through May (2009), Cal/OSHA staff spoke to 4,000 agricultural employers at seminars across the state, conducted 850 heat-related inspections (in all industries), and issued more than 250 citations for breaches of the heat illness
prevention standard. In 2008, it recorded 2,584 inspections and 1,134 citations, more than half of them for lack of a written compliance plan. Cal/OSHA offers more information about the regulation and how to comply at www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness.
Meeting challenges on the ground
Controlling heat stress is a team sport. Tominimize chances of harmfromexcess heat,managers, first-line supervisors, and workers themselves have to take actions based on more than the state’s blanket rules. Various managerial decisions affect workers’ inclination to drink and rest as needed. Operators can adjust procedures and equipment to improve acess towater, shade, and knowledge about heat stress physiology.
Growers and contractors are telling foremen to keep Igloos closer to work activity, provide assorted pop-up canopies, umbrellas, and camp awnings for portable shade and supply plastic chairs for rest. Some have fashioned mobile shade and water stations from simple trailers.
Knowledge of a few physiological principles is needed up and down the line to informchoices that protect against harm from heat while fitting with other business objectives. Since vineyard and winery workers are just as inclined as anyone else tomake reasonable decisions based on what they know, managers can effectively support workers’ day-to-day risk control by helping them understand the causes, consequences, and autonomic responses to heat stress.
A list of ten key points to convey duringworker education is available in the uc davis
newsletter, August 2008, page 10. They can be presented in orientations, tailgate meetings, and company handbooks. A two-sided, bilingual folding heat stress information card and other references and field training tools are available from grower organizations, Cal/OSHA, and UC-DANR.
No matter how Cal/OSHA administers the new regulation, there is no substitute for exercising informed personal judgments at managerial, supervisory, and production crewlevels of a vineyard operation. Managers do well for their businesses and their crews when they consider environmental conditions and physical job demands in scheduling work, make access to water as easy as possible, and patiently explain why frequent visits to water are a good idea.
The array of references and instructional aids forworkplace education about heat stress physiology has expanded in recent years. Much can be gained by drawing from it to give workers and supervisors substantial knowledge rather than a mechanical recitation of cautions, commands, andmantras.
Everybody in a grape production business is better off when all join in understanding and battling heat stress.
   
Howard Rosenberg is a UC Cooperative Extension Specialist based at UC Berkeley and focuses on farm personnel management issues.