Federal Government Adopts California's Heat Campaign

The social marketing campaign developed by UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) to prevent heat illness and related fatalities went national in 2011. Last year, 30 workers died of heat related illness in the United States according to a statement by OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, David Michaels.  The campaign, developed and tested in California, promotes the benefits of heat prevention measures and emphasizes that these are simply part of the job:  “Water. Rest. Shade.  The work can’t get done without them.”

“The campaign developed in California was really impressive. Being able to adopt their materials made it possible for us to go national with the campaign quickly and effectively.”
David Michaels

Suzanne Teran, coordinator of public programs at LOHP, first explored the use of social marketing as a strategy with a heat awareness pilot in Mendota, California. She chose Mendota since approximately half of the predominantly Latino community works in agriculture – a population highly vulnerable to heat illness. During 2003-06, over 70% of the 28 deceased crop workers in the United States were from Mexico or Central and South America.1

LOHP drew on this experience to develop the 2010 California Heat Campaign in collaboration with California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), Cal/OSHA, Underground Advertising, UCLA-LOSH (Labor Occupational Safety and Health) and UC Davis's Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. The campaign included broad media visibility through outdoor advertising and radio, as well as outreach and education programs targeting workers in agriculture, construction and landscaping industries. Materials were produced in five languages – Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi, Mixteco and English – matching the diversity of California’s underserved communities.

In 2011, federal OSHA recognized California’s efforts by adopting the campaign and launching it on a national scale. Recently, OSHA received international recognition for the campaign by winning the platinum MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. The award for outstanding excellence and creativity is the highest honor in the Publicity Campaign category.

The state of California also continued its efforts and LOHP collaborated on a targeted media campaign and worked with its UC partners on “train the trainer” programs and other outreach activities throughout the state.