HELP-New Mexico hosted a press conference in conjunction with a 40-minute presentation of a Proyecto Sol heat stress training to farmworkers
Yesterday, HELP-New Mexico, a member organization of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), hosted a press conference in conjunction with a 40-minute presentation of a Proyecto Sol heat stress training to 15 farmworkers. Participants were honored by the attendance of U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The goal of the presentation was to shed further light on heat stress problems in order to raise awareness of the importance of the U.S. Department of Labor’s campaign to protect outdoor workers from heat-related illnesses.
Secretary Solis addressed the group of farmworkers and trainers on the importance of heat stress prevention, noting, “It’s preventable! Drink a lot of water, stay in the shade, and take care of your co-workers who may not be taking breaks or drinking a lot of water. It’s about safety—it’s about people not getting injured on the job.”
During the event, HELP-New Mexico’s Proyecto Sol trainers Roni Spetalnick, Victor Cabrera, and Debi Lopez provided information to the 15 farmworkers in attendance on recognizing the symptoms of heat-related illness, how to prevent heat stress/heat stroke, and steps to take in the case of a heat stress-related emergency. The training can also provide agricultural employers with information on measures they can take to protect farmworkers from heat stress-related illnesses and emergencies. Measures such as providing clean drinking water, shaded rest areas, and workshifts during the cooler hours of the day can all reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths.
Secretary Solis commended the training efforts, saying “The work that you all are doing, the training that you are going through, and the assistance we are able to give, as small as it might be, to me, these are the shining stars. These are the shining moments when I feel that government is doing its best—that it’s really touching people’s lives and that’s what I’m about.”
Proyecto Sol, which is a heat stress prevention curriculum created by AFOP, is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through a Susan B. Harwood Training Grant. The curriculum provides free training to farmworkers and their employers on how to prevent heat-related illness or death. The innovative project was launched by AFOP in July 2010 to help farmworkers and employers gain the knowledge they need to prevent heat illness. HELP-New Mexico, a local Community Action Agency, is committed to providing New Mexico’s farmworkers with this essential training to protect themselves on the job.
“Our agency appreciates Secretary Solis’ efforts to promote the safety of our country’s farmworkers and her visit to our state to witness our staff’s dedication to providing this crucial and important training to New Mexico’s farmworkers,” stated HELP-New Mexico Executive Director John Martinez.