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Knowledge and Practices to Avoid Heat-Related Illness among Hispanic Farmworkers along the Florida-Georgia Line

Luque, John S., Becker, Alan, Bossak, Brian H., Grzywacz, Joseph G., Tovar-Aguilar, Jose Antonio, Guo, Yian
Journal of agromedicine 2020 v.25 no.2 pp. 190-200
cross-sectional studies, exposure assessment, farm labor, females, field crops, harvest date, headache, heat, heat exhaustion, nausea, occupational health and safety, regression analysis, risk reduction, sociodemographic characteristics, surveys, weeds
Objectives: Farmworkers who harvest and weed field crops are at increased risk for heat exposure and heat-related illness (HRI). The study objectives were to: (1) train crew leaders to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) heat safety tool app and evaluate the utility of the app from a crew leader perspective; and (2) characterize heat safety knowledge, preventive practices, and perceptions of HRI risk among Hispanic farmworkers. Methods: Before harvest season, six crew leaders completed a 2-hour OSHA heat illness prevention training, including evaluation of a heat safety mobile app. Between August and October 2018, 101 Hispanic farmworkers participated in cross-sectional surveys about heat safety. Survey participants responded to questions about HRI prevention, HRI knowledge, and sociodemographics. Results: Crew leaders using the heat safety app rated the app very highly on relevance, functionality, value and privacy. Farmworkers did not report being overly concerned about HRI based on their survey responses. Nevertheless, 19% of farmworkers had experienced nonspecific symptoms from working in the heat, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea. In the multivariate linear regression model, farmworkers had lower heat safety knowledge scores if they were H-2A visa holders, female, and only “a little bit concerned,” compared to others who were “very concerned” about working in the heat. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate the need for continued heat safety training for both crew leaders and farmworkers to reduce the risk of HRI, especially among less experienced farmworkers.