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Worker safety and morale on vegetable farms

As seasonal employees begin working over the next couple of weeks, make sure you're following best practices to prevent heat stress and keep employee morale high. This post highlights best practices for acclimatizing workers to hot weather, and a new report about what diversified vegetable farm employees value in a workplace.

Heat stress

While many farmers have been working in the greenhouse all spring, new employees may not be acclimatized to hot weather. The following tips were taken from the NIOSH/CDC "Protect your workers from heat stress" infographic. 

  •  Follow best practices for acclimatization: workers should gradually increase the time spent in hot conditions over a 7-14 day period. New workers should start at 20% of their time in hot weather, with a 20% increase each day. The infographic below shows specific acclimatization recommenations. 
  • Check in with each other. This could be a buddy system, or just regular check-ins with employees. Often new employees are unsure about asking to take breaks, or embarrassed to admit that they need one. Do your best to make employees feel comfortable asking for breaks when needed, especially at the beginning of the season.
  • Encourage workers to wear clothing that is breathable, light-colored, and loose-fitting. Soak cotton bandanas or other clothing in water if needed to stay cool. 
  • Make sure everyone is drinking 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes.