Cal/OSHA urges employers to prepare for approaching heat season
Posted April 18, 2016
California heat of the past several years has shattered temperature records going back more than 100 years, according to the state’s Department of Industrial Relations.
With this year’s heat season approaching, Cal/OSHA reminds employers that prevention is the best defense for outdoor workers against heat-related illness and death.
The risk of heat illness is generally highest for people who work outdoors. Therefore, Cal/OSHA’s approach to prevention includes inspections at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping, and construction during heat season.
These targeted inspections check for compliance with the heat illness prevention standard and the injury and illness prevention standard, which require employers to take the following basic precautions:
- Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
- Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool‐down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
- Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks, or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
- Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.
The most frequent violation that Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a proper written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite. Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.
To remain in compliance with the standard, Cal/OSHA encourages employers and worker supervisors to learn more about the standard, which was updated in 2015. More information on the updates is available in the Cal/OSHA guidance on the new requirements and the Heat Illness Prevention Enforcement Q&A.
J. J. Keller's California Workplace Safety Manual provides guidance to help comply with Cal/OSHA's most scrutinized requirements.
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