By Clint Thompson
Potential rules protecting indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat could have significant ramifications for vegetable and specialty crop producers. Imagine 35-to-45-minute paid rest breaks every hour if the temperatures are high enough during the summer. Ellen Hendley, vice president at AgWorks H2, LLC, can’t fathom it, either. That’s why she encourages growers to be as vocal as possible.
Anyone can submit comments on or before Dec. 27, 2021 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about any concerns they may have.
“The initiative that basically you’ve got to shut down the south when it gets hot outside, I don’t know how you’re going to feed America if you’re shutting down the farmers because it’s too hot outside. They’re already taking all of these steps and measures to protect their workers and doing everything they can to make sure they’re safe,” Hendley said. “I just don’t think they realize how it’s going to affect (Southeast producers).”
OSHA is soliciting information that it will consider in developing a heat standard. All comments, including any personal information a commentor provides, will be placed in the public docket without change and publicly available online at www.regulations.gov.
“It’s going to be up to (farmers) to talk to their Congressmen, whoever they can talk to. (They need) to make sure they understand what is and isn’t reasonable to run businesses if you want food grown in the south,” Hendley said. “You can’t work necessarily before the sun comes up. You have to wait for the dew to dry. There’s certain things that you just can’t do in agriculture where you’re thinking about the realistic implications of what’s coming out, how it’s going to affect these farmers and whether or not they can do what they need to do to stay in business.”