Heatwaves Are Coming: 5 Things to Communicate to Farmworkers
The severe effects of global warming and climate change are evident, and we can feel them around us with each passing day. One of the adverse effects of climate change is heatwaves.
Heatwaves, like any other natural disaster, can be catastrophic. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more fatalities than all other weather events – including flooding.
The agricultural sector is really affected by these drastic weather changes. Due to the physically demanding nature of their jobs, employees in the food production chain, particularly farmworkers, are especially likely to experience severe heat stress.
Agricultural jobs necessitate extended periods of physically demanding labor, often in hot and humid weather. Farmworkers are more susceptible to heat-related diseases due to these environmental and work situations. Ag employers can help farmworkers by communicating preventative measures via text messages regularly as a supplement to safety training.
First and foremost, you have to understand what heatwaves are.
What are Heatwaves?
A heatwave is a prolonged period of unusually high temperatures in a region. The average temperatures have to be significantly above average (generally 10 degrees or more) and last at least 2 or 3 days. Heatwaves are often caused by high pressure that forces air downwards, making the area feel like the inside of an oven because of the trapped air.
The hot air usually gets hotter because there is no rising air and no rain to cool down the area. Heatwaves can cause serious heat-related illnesses, which can be fatal if untreated.
How to Communicate with Your Employees
We understand that sometimes it might be challenging to get the word out to your employees, especially during distressing periods such as heatwaves. With Ganaz’s Workforce Communication feature, the communication process is simple, and the message is auto-translated to their preferred language. Communication that safeguards your workforce is essential.
Effective communication and heat stress training are mandatory in all sectors, including the agricultural industry. Ag employers should communicate safety measures for their employees around bracing for incoming heat waves.
What to Communicate with Farmworkers
What are some of the essential pieces of communication that should reach your work crews during heat waves?
1. Staying Hydrated
As an employer, you must provide clean drinking water for your employee, especially during extremely hot conditions. It is recommended that workers drink 1 cup (8 oz.) of water or other fluids every 15-20 minutes when working in hot conditions.
It is also advisable to avoid alcohol and other caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee, or energy drinks because they can also increase the risk of heat stress. Ensure that all your team members recognize the essence of staying hydrated during heat waves.
Alert: A heatwave is forecasted for the next 3 days. Please, remember to drink 8 oz. of water every 15-20 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.
Alerta: Se pronostica una ola de calor para los próximos 3 días. Por favor, recuerde beber 8 oz. de agua cada 15-20 minutos, incluso si no tienes sed.
2. Regular Rest in Shade
Being exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period, especially during heat waves, puts your staff at risk of heat-related illnesses. You should encourage your farmworkers to take regular breaks in shaded areas. You should implement a productive work-rest regime, so workers always have a chance to cool down.
Depending on the temperature and the intensity of the work, these breaks should increase in duration and frequency. Paying your farmworkers by piece rate rather than by the hour encourages your workers to take time to get water and take rest/shade breaks.
With a heatwave in effect, remember to take breaks in shaded areas.
Con una ola de calor en vigor, recuerde tomar descansos en áreas sombreadas.
3. Wearing Appropriate Apparel
It is advisable to encourage your workers to wear loose-fitting, lightweight, breathable, and light-colored cotton clothes during extremely hot conditions. Head protection such as wide-brimmed hats, baseball caps, and bandanas should be encouraged.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects workers from viruses such as COVID-19, dust inhalation, pesticide poisoning, and even sunburns. Although PPEs are necessary, they might trap heat and cause the body to overheat more quickly, so communicating the importance of following recommendations is essential.
In addition, because farmworkers have to be outdoors even during heatwaves, wearing sunscreen is a wise thing to do. Sunglasses can also help prevent eye complications from exposure to direct sunlight.
Remember to wear loose-fitting, lightweight, breathable, and light-colored cotton clothes during extremely hot conditions.
Recuerde usar ropa de algodón holgada, liviana, transpirable y de colores claros durante condiciones de calor extremo.
4. Plan for Hot Days
Proper planning for heat waves can give you an upper hand during these disasters. Review weather forecasts and other weather resources available to guide scheduling. Heavy work should be slotted for days when the weather is favorable and cooler, or opt for early morning starts or even working overnight. Implement shorter shifts while scheduling rests and handovers to ensure maximum productivity, and communicate any shift changes to each crew.
You should also consider vulnerable groups such as the elderly and expectant mothers. It would be sensible to slot them in the early morning before the sun gets too harsh. Alternatively, you can also offer them leave days to avert the possible occurrence of a catastrophe.
Due to the forecasted heatwave, we’ll be starting our morning shifts at 4:00 AM. Any questions, feel free to respond to this message.
Debido a la ola de calor pronosticada, comenzaremos nuestro turno de mañana a las 4:00 AM. Cualquier duda, no dudes en responder a este mensaje.
5. Education and Training
Since most farmworkers might not be familiar with all the symptoms of heat stress and other heat-related illnesses, it is important to sensitize them. Teach your agricultural staff about various heat illnesses, their symptoms, and prevention.
You can even encourage them to conduct drills for the first response on the occasion of heat-related illnesses. Simple steps like these can go a long way and even prove lifesaving.
Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Learn the symptoms and what to do if you or a co-worker shows signs of having a heat-related illness.
What to look for:
Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
Fast, strong pulse
Las enfermedades relacionadas con el calor se pueden prevenir. Conozca los síntomas y qué hacer si usted o un compañero de trabajo muestran signos de tener una enfermedad relacionada con el calor.
Piel caliente, roja, seca o húmeda
Pulso rápido y fuerte
Dolor de cabeza
Perder el conocimiento
It might be challenging to get the information to your staff, especially during distressing times, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Poor communication has been proven to be the number one factor linked to turnover in agriculture. Therefore, better communication with farmworkers can provide important information during heatwaves and significantly boost your farm’s production.
You can effectively communicate with your employees through comprehensive human resource management software like the Ganaz People Management Platform. It is straightforward, and you can do it either through a computer or a smartphone.
Don’t be caught off-guard by the heat waves, and get important information out to your workforce on time through communication technology built specifically for agriculture. If you would like to learn how to do this, get in touch with us today and let us make your communication with your staff simple and efficient.