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Summer is Here – Are Your Outdoor Workers Protected from Heat Illness?

Summer is upon us, time for seasonal measures to protect workers from heat illness. California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB) 2015 regulations set the standards. See, New Heat Illness Prevention Measures Now in Place (May, 2015); Employers Must Chill (April 11, 2017).

These rules require free, fresh, and “suitably cool” drinking water, access to shady rest areas when temperature is over 80 degrees F, monitoring of preventative cool-down, additional high-heat (over 95 degrees F) procedures, and training. See, Heat Illness Prevention Amendments Are Likely to Take Effect May 1, 2015 (April, 2015). They also direct supervisors to closely observe new employees while they become acclimated to a hot environment and all employees during a “heat wave,” defined as 80 degrees F or higher.

California’s Division on Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) regularly increases enforcement of these preventative measures over the summer months. See, Cal/OSHA Increases Enforcement (June, 2011).

Cal/OSHA’s website contains additional guidance, including information on causes of heat illness with real examples, how to respond to heat illness, and best practices on a company’s required written prevention plan.

A business’s heat illness prevention plan must be in English as well as in the language(s) understood by the majority of the company’s workers. The plan is a part of an employer’s overall Illness and Injury Prevention Plan (IIPP). A company must make the plan available at the worksite(s) to which it applies.

These standards apply to outdoor work only. However, the OSHSB is due to propose a comparable set of regulations for indoor employees by January 1, 2019. Regardless of any specific rules, employers in industries with high-heat indoor environments should regularly review IIPP measures to prevent related illness.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

June 8, 2018