A new statement released by Cal/OSHA is warning all employers to keep workers safe after the National Weather Service released a forecast indicating triple-digit temperatures for the state as summer begins.
Cal/OSHA is reminding workers to take preventative cool-down breaks in the shade as temperatures rise throughout California.
“During heat waves, employers must closely observe their employees for signs and symptoms of heat illness,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum, in a statement. “As always, workers should be encouraged to drink water frequently and take preventative cool-down rest breaks in the shade when they feel the need to do so.”
California’s heat illness prevention regulation requires employers with outdoor workers to take the following four steps to prevent heat illness:
- Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
- Shade – Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cool-down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness, according to the agency.
In addition to the other requirements outlined in California’s heat illness prevention regulation, it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker does get sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death.