Heat Standard Could Negatively Impact Citrus

Tacy CalliesRegulation, Safety

heat
© Florida Department of Citrus

Potential rules protecting indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat could have significant ramifications for U.S. citrus growers. Growers and industry members can submit comments on or before Dec. 27 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about any concerns they may have.

Imagine workers in a citrus grove enjoying 35- to 45-minute rest breaks every hour if the temperatures are high enough. Ellen Hendley, vice president at AgWorks H2, LLC, can’t imagine it, either. That’s why she is encouraging growers to be as vocal as possible.

“I don’t know how you’re going to feed America if you’re shutting down the farmers because it’s too hot outside when they’re already taking all of these steps and measures to protect their workers and doing everything they can to make sure they’re safe,” Hendley said. “I just don’t think they realize how it’s going to affect (Southeast producers).”

OSHA is soliciting information that it will consider in developing a heat standard. Read the Federal Register notice for submission instructions. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov; refer to Docket No. OSHA-2021-0009.

“It’s going to be up to (growers) to talk to their Congressmen … to make sure they understand what is and isn’t reasonable to run businesses if you want food grown in the South. You can’t work necessarily before the sun comes up. You have to wait for the dew to dry,” Hendley said. “There’s certain things that you just can’t do in agriculture where you’re thinking about the realistic implications of what’s coming out, how it’s going to affect these farmers and whether or not they can do what they need to do to stay in business.”

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Clint Thompson