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California: Emergency Heat Illness Rule Extended

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has extended the state's emergency heat illness regulation, which was set to expire Dec. 21.

The regulation, which was prompted by the heat-related deaths of several California workers this past summer, mandates that California employers and workers learn to recognize, prevent and treat heat stress. It also requires employers to allow outdoor workers to rest in a shaded area if they are suffering from heat illness or are feeling the effects of the heat.

"This regulation requires employers to take basic steps to prevent further heat-related illnesses or fatalities in California," said Len Welsh, acting chief of Cal/OSHA. "We are now working to finalize a permanent regulation that will continue these protections into the future."

On Aug. 22 the state Office of Administrative Law approved the emergency regulation for heat illness prevention. In conjunction, Cal/OSHA began the process of developing a proposal for permanent heat illness prevention regulations.

The public was provided opportunities to comment at meetings held on Sept. 20 and Nov. 14, and public comments also have been submitted in writing. Cal/OSHA and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency continue to work with the Cal/OSHA Standards Board and worker and employer communities toward the adoption of permanent regulation.

In the aftermath of the heat-related fatalities this summer, Cal/OSHA launched a heat illness campaign that included an advisory bulletin, a Spanish language radio blitz and a Web page outlining preventative measures. In addition, Cal/OSHA inspectors have been distributing information and talking to workers as they inspect work sites with outdoor workers, according to the agency.

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