ROAST AND TOAST Preventing Workplace Heat Illness « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Preventing Workplace Heat Illness

Hot Spot Forethought

In the face of a particularly intense string of 100-plus degree days ahead, Cal/OSHA’s July 12, 2023 news release reminds employers to safeguard workers from heat illness, referencing the particular areas of the state likely to be hit the hardest.

Heat illnesses are potentially fatal.  The two most serious are: heat stroke (e.g., red, hot dry skin, high body temperature, muscle twitching, confusion, fainting, convulsions, unconsciousness); and heat exhaustion (e.g., dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and/or cramps).  Heat rash and heat cramps can also occur.

Cal/OSHA regulations require all employers with “outdoor areas of employment” to take heat illness prevention measures starting at 80° F, with escalation to high heat measures at 95°F for employers in agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and transportation of heavy industrial and commercial products that include loading and unloading.

The July 12 release directs employers to take five protective measures for outdoor workers:

  • Plan – Have an effective written heat illness prevention plan, including emergency response procedures.
  • Training – Train all employees and supervisors on preventing heat illness (so they can avoid it and know what to do if it occurs).
  • Water – Provide free, fresh, pure, suitably cool drinking water so workers can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  • Rest – Encourage cool-down rests in the shade for at least five minutes when workers need to protect themselves from overheating, without waiting until they feel sick to cool down.
  • Shade – Provide proper shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Workers must be allowed a shady cool-off area whenever they feel they need it.

The agency also cautions employers to correct unsafe heat conditions for indoor workers as part of their Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP) and to encourage outdoor workers to understand and exercise their illness prevention rights, such as cool-down rest time as necessary.
Cal/OSHA provides heat illness prevention training materials with its Heat Illness Prevention web page and the Heat Illness Prevention tool.


Heat illness prevention is a major priority to avoid serious illness or death of workers. The Cal/OSHA website has good resources to assist.  The five above actions must be part of heat illness prevention measures in policy and in practice starting at 80 degrees.

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

See also:

Tim Bowles
July 14, 2023

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