Hot in the Vineyard - Now What?

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Dade Moeller, a health and safety firm based in Richland, offers the following tips to help employers ensure the safety of their outdoor workers during the heat wave.

Dade Moeller provides worker safety and health services, including to the viticulture industry.

Richland-based Dade Moeller provides worker safety and health services, including to the viticulture industry.

Once the outdoor temperature exceeds 89 degrees, employers are required to take action.

Eastern Washington is experiencing a near-record heat wave along with a record drought. However, employers in the viticulture industry (or other agricultural industries) cannot stop tending to the vines just because it's hot; plus it's often unsafe to perform these tasks at night when it would be cooler. Certainly, starting work at first light and avoiding the hottest part of the day is prudent scheduling, but what else should or could employers be doing?

Dade Moeller, a health and safety firm based in Richland, offers the following tips to help employers ensure the safety of their outdoor workers during the heat wave.

First, be aware that the State of Washington has a standard in place for protection of workers from outdoor heat exposure (WAC 296-62-095; use arrows at top to page right for all 7 pages of the standard). In short, once the outdoor temperature exceeds 89 degrees (or less with extra protective gear on), employers are required to be taking action such as ensuring workers have ready access to drinking water (potable water that is suitable to drink, up to a quart per employee per hour), encouraging them to drink, and ensuring adequate provisions for cooling off. The protection standard also includes state-mandated training requirements for employees and supervisors.

Second, employers should have in place a heat stress program that implements the standard, including drinking water, employee monitoring, procedures to relieve employees from duty if showing signs or symptoms of heat-related illness, emergency response (including cooling and access to medical facilities), and training.

About Us: Dade Moeller is a full service safety and health firm located in Richland, Washington. We provide a complete suite of safety and industrial hygiene services, including safety program development.

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Paula Tumlinson (Media Contact)

Steve Bump, Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)

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