Department of Emergency Medicine
California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS)

Study Description


Study Aims, Method, and Direction

Our Goal is to help the farmer / labor contractor and the field worker achieve the safest possible work conditions in the heat of harvest season on California farms. The diversity of commodities produced and many different regional climates will require flexible approaches and a deeper understanding of the workers’ cultural background and how behavior may not always go along with the best safety practices.

Our approach is to look at the body’s responses to different work intensities and heat exposures (the current regulatory approach treats all types of farming, all regions, and climates as equal) to define basic Heat Related Illness (HRI) risk levels. Then decide whether the  social / cultural habits and beliefs of the overwhelmingly Latino workforce help or hinder the ability of the body to maintain a healthy temperature. If behaviors are increasing HRI risk we will collaboratively work with employers and employees to find solutions.

Our Specific Aims are:

  1. To increase the understanding of physiological responses to environmental heat and varying physical work in agricultural laborers.  From the data gathered, we will develop hypotheses and propose strategies to reduce the risk of HRI.

  2. To interview a wide variety of field workers in focus groups, and employers using a structured questionnaire; so obtain information about social and cultural expectations that may prevent field workers protecting themselves when at risk for HRI. We will use focus groups and key interviews to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of solutions suggested by the information developed from Specific Aim 1.

  3. Develop new outreach methods for HRI training and evaluate their effectiveness.