Nav: Home

More Washington state agricultural workers injured in hot weather

October 07, 2016

Warmer weather is related to an increase in traumatic injuries for outdoor agricultural workers in central and eastern Washington.

These findings, which appear Oct. 7 in PLOS ONE, come from a study by researchers at the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries' Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) program.

The study is the first to estimate the risk of traumatic injury in farm workers using temperature data linked to the geographic location of the injury.

The researchers reported on more than 12,200 traumatic injury workers' compensation claims filed by agricultural workers from 2000 to 2012.

"Taken together with prior research in this area, our results suggest that we need to be proactive when it's warm outside, particularly when work is physically demanding, in order to prevent heat-related injuries as well as heat-related illness," said June Spector, lead author of the study and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Internal body heat generated from physical exertion contributes to overall heat stress. One of the most well documented health effects of hot weather is heat-related illness. This can range from heat rash to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

"This study reinforces the importance of prevention," said David Bonauto, co-author of the study and research director of SHARP. "Employers need to provide plenty of fresh drinking water, start work as early in the day as possible, and encourage workers to take breaks and pace themselves."

In the case-crossover study, researchers identified the temperature and humidity at the approximate location of the injury on the injury day. To understand how heat may have been a factor in the injury, the researchers compared the heat and humidity on the injury day with days when there was no new injury for that individual working at the same work location.

The connection between heat and injury was not surprising to the researchers. With heat exposure, dehydration, and fatigue, a person can become less stable on their feet and have more difficulty concentrating. The exact mechanisms responsible for the increased risk observed need further study, Spector said.

The average daily maximum temperature between May and September during the twelve-year period studied was 82.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures at times exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Add humidity and the weather can feel even hotter. Exertion also influences heat stress placed on the body. A cherry harvester, for example, has a physically demanding job that requires carrying and climbing ladders with bags of fruit. Being paid for work by the amount harvested can make the job more intense. This piece rate scheme can provide an opportunity for increased pay but also encourages workers to work harder and faster.

"Our findings underscore the importance of working together with workers and growers to identify and evaluate practical strategies that address the increased risk of injury that outdoor agricultural workers face in the heat," she said.

Washington state has workplace safety standards--in effect from May to September-- that address outdoor heat in agriculture. Legislation was recently passed to require paid rest breaks.

Financial support for the study was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
-end-


University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Related Health Articles:

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.
Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.
Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.
Geographic and health system correlates of interprofessional oral health practice
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health (Volume 6, Number 2, 2018, pp.
Bloomberg era's emphasis on 'health in all policies' improved New Yorkers' heart health
From 2002 to 2013, New York City implemented a series of policies prioritizing the public's health in areas beyond traditional healthcare policies and illustrated the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Youth consider mobile health units a safe place for sexual health services
Mobile health units bring important medical services to communities across the country.
Toddler formulas and milks -- not recommended by health experts -- mislead with health claims
Misleading labeling on formulas and milks marketed as 'toddler drinks' may confuse parents about their healthfulness or necessity, finds a new study by researchers at the NYU College of Global Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
Women's health has worsened while men's health has improved, trends since 1990 show
Swedish researchers have studied health trends among women and men aged 25-34 from 1990-2014.
Health insurance changes, access to care by patients' mental health status
A research letter published by JAMA Psychiatry examined access to care before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and after the ACA for patients grouped by mental health status using a scale to assess mental illness in epidemiologic studies.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Flag and the Fury
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained "officially" flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.