A Multi-Level Approach to Heat Related Illness Prevention in Agricultural Workers

This study works in collaboration with Washington state growers and workers, farmworker housing partners, and Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet. This participatory intervention project introduces timely heat safety guidance to employers.

 

To date, the project team and its advisory board have completed English and Spanish versions of the participatory training program, “Heat Education & Awareness Tools (HEAT): A train-the-trainer guide for the identification, prevention, and treatment of heat illness in outdoor agricultural workers.” Additionally, the Heat Awareness app developed in conjunction with WSU AWN has been finalized and released in English and Spanish. Once downloaded, a user selects the WSU AWN weather station(s) of interest. When a hot day is forecasted, a notification provides a worker health risk category and agriculture-specific recommendations.

 

Summer 2019 saw the completion of an intensive 3-month field study to evaluate the effect of the educational intervention approach on farmworker heat symptoms and heat strain. Results from this field research are currently under analysis, although personal results have been shared back to our volunteer participants.

 

The training and app resources will be shared with all Washington state growers for Summer 2020.

 

Principal Investigator: June Spector, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington|

NIOSH 2016-2021

 

Specific Aims

Aim 1. Develop, with input from stakeholders, an HRI prevention intervention approach that addresses HRI risk factors at multiple levels.

Aim 2. Evaluate the intervention on occupational heat strain and HRI symptoms in a parallel, comparison, group intervention study in WA tree fruit workers during the summer season. 

Aim 3. Assess whether hot evening farmworker housing conditions worsen the health effects of workplace heat stress in these workers using a longitudinal observational study design.

Partnerships and Advisories
Washington State University, AgWeatherNet Program

Resources
UW Newsletter: Gabino Abarca: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Agricultural Work

Heat Education & Awareness Tools (HEAT) training materials

Projects

Heat, Exposure, Injury Risk, and Productivity in Agricultural Workers

Pilot: Study of Risk Factors for Health-Related Illness in Agricultural Workers