All people living in the United States have a right to a safe and healthy working environment. The U.S. government created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in1970 to enforce these rights. OSHA is the government body that sets the standards all employers must follow in order to keep their workers safe. Employers with ten or more employees, who are not part of the employer’s immediate family, are required to follow the health and safety standards enforced by OSHA.OSHA also provides information and safety training to workers and employers. It is required that the training be conducted in the language and vocabulary all workers can understand. Some of the general standards that OSHA requires employers to follow, include:
n Limiting the exposure of employees to hazardous chemicals
n Requiring the use of safety equipment
n Keeping records of workplace injuries and illnesses. The following are regulations that agricultural employers must follow in order to stay compliant with OSHA standards:
n Temporary labor camps must provide housing, a clean water supply, toilet facilities, lighting, a place to dispose of trash, an operating kitchen, an area to eat safely, insect and rodent control, and first aid.
n Agricultural employers are required to provide employees who work in the fields with clean and safe drinking water, toilet facilities and hand washing facilities. These facilities must be well maintained.
n Training must be provided to inform employees about the practice of good hygiene.
n Employers are required to provide employees with information about hazardous chemicals and pesticides they might be exposed to. If you notice that an employer is not following OSHA standards, you are
encouraged to file a complaint. When filing a complaint with OSHA, it will be kept confidential. It is important to know that it is a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate against a worker for filing a complaint using their OSHA rights. The importance of SHADE, WATER & RESTOSHA is making a point to inform employers about the importance of providing their workers with rest, shade and water during the hot summer months. In order to be sure workers’ rights are being protected and heat illnesses do not occur, Cal/OSHA began a campaign called Water. Rest. Shade. OSHA’s campaign website strongly encourages the following practices to protect workers from heat illnesses:
n Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.
n Rest in the shade to cool down.
n Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
n Keep an eye on fellow workers. If you have questions, need additional information, want to file a complaint, or would like to contact OSHA, please call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Spanish and English options are available. You can also visit http://www.osha.gov for more information.