Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness, as temperatures in parts of Southern California climb into the upper 90s today and will continue to rise through the weekend and into early next week.
“California’s heat illness standards are the strongest in the country, and we will continue to work with both labor and management to ensure that workers stay well on the job,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, is a division within the DIR.
“Heat illness can easily be prevented,” said Acting Chief of Cal/OSHA Juliann Sum. “It is essential that employers with outdoor workers adopt a comprehensive approach that protects against a variety of risk factors.”
California’s heat regulation requires all employers with outdoor workers take basic steps to protect outdoor workers:
- Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention, including “acclimatization” to get used to the heat.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.
- Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break.
- Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on the steps to take if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.
Special “High Heat” procedures are also required when temperatures reach or exceed 95 degrees for construction, landscaping, agricultural, oil and gas extraction, and transportation outdoor worksites. At these times, supervisors must take extra precautions:
- Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
- Remind workers to drink water frequently.
- Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of their employment (to ensure acclimatization).
- Have effective communication systems in place to be able to summon emergency assistance if necessary.
Employers are reminded to check the National Weather Service for your local forecast.
Cal/OSHA will inspect worksites in outdoor industries such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and others throughout the heat season. Through partnerships with various employer and worker organizations in different industries, Cal/OSHA will also provide consultation, outreach and training on heat illness prevention.
Information on the heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available on the Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness web page and Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site. Additional resources include the Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention e-tool.
Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, can contact the Cal/OSHA district office in their region to file a confidential report. Recorded messages in English and Spanish detailing resources for California workers are also available toll free at 1-866-924-9757.