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Cal/OSHA: Protect Your Workers Against Heat-Related Illness

June 6, 2019
Heat advisories have been issued across the state.

In anticipation of upcoming rising temperatures, California's state-run OSHA is advising employers to take the steps necessary to protect outdoor workers.

The National Weather Service reports that temperatures could reach triple digits in in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties and forecasts high heat throughout inland parts of the state next week.

Cal/OSHA indicates the following steps must be taken to prevent heat-related 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 qt. 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.

The agency also is reminding companies that heat prevention compliance is part of the state's heat illness prevention regulation and other workplace safety and health requirements.

Investigators regularly inspect outdoor job sites to ensure companies are following these standards.

Workers who experience overheating should take cover in the shade until heat-related symptoms dissipate. Employers with pre-existing medical conditions that reduce heat tolerance, such as diabetes, high pressure or on anti-inflammatory medications, should take extra precautions.

To prevent heat illness, Cal/OSHA states it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death.

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Detail on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.

Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).

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