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California Employers Must Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Illness

Heat illness is a serious, potentially fatal condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with heat.  The two main types are heat exhaustion (e.g., dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and/or cramps) and heat stroke (e.g., red, hot dry skin, high body temperature, confusion, fainting and/or convulsions).

As outdoor temperatures rise, employers must implement and monitor heat illness protection standards.  For example, employers must ●track the weather and check for approaching heat waves; ●provide shade when the temperature reaches 80 degrees; and ●implement additional high-heat procedures  when the temperature reaches or exceeds 95 degrees, such as enhanced communication, vigilance and water consumption.

Cal/OSHA has issued a June 28, 2021 news release urging all employers to take these steps to protect outdoor workers from heat illness:

  • Plan – Maintain a written heat illness prevention plan with emergency response procedures;
  • Train – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention;
  • Water –   Provide fresh, pure, and cool drinking water free of charge so that each worker can drink at least one quart per hour and encourage them to do so;
  • Rest – Encourage cool-down rests in the shade for at least five minutes whenever needed.  Workers should never wait until they feel sick before doing so; and
  • Shade – Provide proper shade to cool off at any time when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.

Cal/OSHA announced: “It is important for employers to assess the risk of heat illness based on a worker’s duties and take appropriate steps to prevent them from getting sick.  Regardless of the level of risk, all outdoor workers must be protected equally and employers with outdoor workers must maintain an effective heat illness prevention plan year-round.”

To download training materials and access further resources, please visit Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention page, its Heat Illness Prevention online tool or the website.

For more information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.
See also:

Cindy Bamforth
July 9, 2021

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