For Juvenal Zaragoza of Visalia, working six years in the rich agricultural fields of the Central Valley area was not only a tough and demanding job requiring long hours under a scorching sun, but at times, a heightened sense of awareness when working around overhead power lines.
“Working outdoors, it was important that we were constantly aware of our surroundings,” said the 29-year- old.
Zaragoza now works for the Cesar Chavez Foundation-owned, Spanish-language radio station La Campesina, KUFW-FM 90.5. The station recently partnered with Southern California Edison (SCE) to help increase awareness about electrical safety among farm workers in the greater Central Valley.
One way the radio station’s staff connects with the community is by visiting different fields in rural towns within Tulare, Kings and Kern counties during the summer harvest season. The weekly visits, known as cuadrillas, take place during lunchtime to share information with the workers about important topics such as immigrant rights, education and free health services.
Starting in late May through July 10, SCE is participating in eight cuadrillas to provide workers with electrical safety kits containing information in Spanish about downed power lines, outage safety and emergency preparedness. Over the course of the eight weeks, about 400 workers will receive the kits that also include an electrical safety flyer, collapsible water bottle and a flashlight.
“Southern California Edison is helping us empower the community,” said La Campesina General Manager Jorge Guizar. “This type of safety on the job information is valuable and needed for the well-being of the workers and their families.”
The farm workers appreciate the information they have received on how to stay safe while working in the fields.
“This information is very important because out here anything can happen,” said Marco Antonio Peña. “If we don’t know how to respond to or prevent an accident, Edison informs us how so it’s very helpful.”
“It’s a good thing to inform us about these dangers in the fields,” said Jose Jaime de Lara.
In early May, SCE also connected with close to 2,000 farm workers and their families at La Campesina’s Mother’s Day Festival held in Woodlake. An estimated 5,000 farm-worker families from across 11 cities and towns within Visalia-Porterville and Hanford-Corcoran’s metropolitan areas attended the event.
“Safety is a priority for SCE and we’re committed to raising electrical safety awareness among all our customers, whether they are in urban or rural areas,” said Don Neal, director of Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety at SCE. “That means going beyond the homes and businesses in our urban and suburban communities into the more remote, rural areas where our customers work, live and play.”