Online Program

Heat-related illness symptoms and prevention practices in central Florida

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Abby Mutic, MSN, CNM, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Valerie Mac, RN, PhD, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Eugenia Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Antonio Tovar, PhD, Florida Prevention Research Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Linda A. McCauley, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAAOHN, School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Heat-related illness (HRI) is an emerging public health concern, especially for those working outdoors. Fernery workers, a subpopulation of farmworkers, grow ornamental foliage underneath cloth structures, creating hot and humid work environments. Within a community based participatory research study, the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) and Emory University piloted a HRI survey. The objective of this survey was to assess the prevalence of HRI symptoms and the factors related to HRI among fernery workers.

Methods: A cross-section survey was conducted in a convenience sample of Latino fernery workers. Participants reported on agricultural task performed, repetitive motions, HRI symptoms, and HRI prevention practices. General health-related practices such as wearing sunscreen and protective clothing were also surveyed.

Results: Respondents (n=23) worked 4-10 hours/day (6.3 ± 1.2) during summer months. The majority reported at least one HRI symptom during the previous week (83%), including hot, dry skin (74%), headache (57%), and nausea or vomiting (44%). HRI prevention practices were limited: 61% rarely or never took breaks in shade and 78% report not being able to change work duties. Additionally, limited use of sunscreen was reported.

Conclusions: HRI symptoms are common among fernery workers. Findings indicate farmworkers have limited ability to change their work environment or behaviors in order to reduce the incidence of HRI. The findings suggest a need for creative interventions to increase knowledge of HRI and health practices to decrease symptoms and overall risk of illness.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence of heat-related illness (HRI) symptoms among fernery workers. List factors related to HRI in fernery workers, including work conditions and health practices.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a team member of this community-based participatory research team and have conducted the data analysis on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.