Now when temperatures heat up in California, so will the responsibility of dairy and other farm owners to provide heat safety protection for their employees.

On August 20, the State Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted unanimously to extend existing standards for shade and water breaks during hot weather to five additional industries, including agriculture. Heat illness education and training, and protocols to ensure close observation and communication with employees during high heat periods, are also stipulated in the measure.

In 2005, California became the first state in the nation to adopt heat safety regulations to protect workers. There are approximately 400,000 farm employees in the state, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. The revised standard is expected to take effect in October.

Heat relief procedures – making shade and drinking water readily available – are now mandatory when the temperature reaches 85 degrees. At 95 degrees, farm supervisors must also observe employees for signs of alertness and symptoms of heat illness; encourage them to drink plenty of water during their shift; and closely supervise new employees during their first 14 days.

"Everyone on the farm needs to take responsibility for heat safety: farmers and ranchers, supervisors, and employees themselves," said Bryan Little, CFBF director of labor affairs. "We will continue our efforts to make sure everyone understands what they need to do to remain safe on hot days."