Valley Farm Workers Battling Extreme Heat
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
MECCA- There are few crops left to harvest in the heat of the summer, but the farm workers still laboring in the sun can face harsh conditions. Not having enough water or shade could be deadly.
"Collapsing, death would be the worse. But we don't want anybody hurt," said Jose Langarica, the farm supervisor for K and W Farms, which harvests figs throughout the summer in Mecca.
K and W Farms designed a mobile cooling station for workers, equipped with a fan and misters powered by solar panels.
"We go on into the tail end of the season, we had to design something a little bit more comfortable for the people," said Langarica.
The fig farm says they start the day at 5:30am and end by 12:30pm to keep workers from picking during the highest temperatures. K and W Farms say they also give unlimited breaks, but California Rural Legal Assistance lawyers say many farms in the valley don't do enough to keep workers safe.
"Right now the biggest issue we see is extreme pressure placed upon the worker that leads them to work at rates that are way higher than should be permitted under extreme heat and also pressures them to forgo their rest period or water breaks that they are entitled to take," said Megan Beaman, a Coachella CRLA attorney.
Cal OSHA requires shade for workers and breaks every two hours.
"If they aren't safe, if they aren't healthy, the job isn't really worth anything after all," said Beaman.
Jessica Flores, KMIR6 News.