Employers are encouraged to provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently, particularly in areas experiencing heat waves.

Record Temperatures Bring Reminders of Heat-Related Illness from Cal/OSHA

June 10, 2013
With parts of California experiencing record-breaking temperatures, with some highs in in the triple digits, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers and employees of ways to beat the heat.

Cal/OSHA is asking all employers across the state to protect their outdoor workers from the risks associated with heat illness.  With temperatures reaching triple digits, constant vigilance is especially necessary to protect workers during periods of high heat. 

“Cal/OSHA continues to enforce the nation's most comprehensive heat illness prevention regulations, 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).  Cal/OSHA, also known as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, is a division of DIR. 

“Adequate water, shade, rest breaks, training and emergency procedures can mean the difference between life and death,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “We are focusing on those industries where outdoor work is performed: agriculture, construction and landscaping to name a few. We will use all available enforcement tools to target employers who skirt the law and put the health of their workers at risk.”

Excessive heat is expected in the Inland Empire, Central Valley and southern deserts, with record temperatures of over 110 degrees possible. 

California’s heat regulation requires all employers with outdoor workers take basic steps to protect their workers:

  • Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention before work begins.
  • Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.
  • Provide a readily accessible shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break.
  • Ensure that workers are given enough time to adjust, or “acclimatize” to the heat. This especially is important for new workers and for all workers during a sudden heat wave. This step can mean the difference between life and death.
  • 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 required when temperatures reach 95 degrees and workers are at greater risk. At these times, supervisors must take extra precautions, and:

  • 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.

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 also will provide consultation, outreach and training on heat illness prevention to employers and employees. 

Online information on the heat illness prevention requirements and training materials can be obtained at Cal/OSHA's Heat Illness web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA’s web site.

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