Cal/OSHA toughens heat safety regulations
April 7, 2015
• Take effect May 1
• “Will help further reduce the heat-related risks associated with working outdoors”
California’s current heat illness prevention regulations are being toughened.
“The new heat illness prevention requirements offer additional safeguards for outdoor workers,” says Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations. “With warmer weather expected, these new requirements give employers tools to prevent and deal with serious heat-related medical conditions that can happen to employees on the job.”
The revisions in the heat illness prevention regulation include the following:
• Water must be pure, suitably cool, and provided free to workers.
• Water must be located as close as practicable to where employees are working so they can hydrate frequently during their shift.
• When temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, shade is required for all workers on break, and for all those who take their meal periods onsite. For climates cooler than 80 degrees, shade must be made available upon request.
• Workers who take cool-down rest breaks must be monitored and asked if they are experiencing heat illness symptoms.
• High-heat procedures have been modified for the agriculture industry to mandate one 10-minute preventative cool-down rest break every two hours when temperatures equal or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Employers must ensure that supervisors and workers are adequately trained to recognize and react to heat illness signs or symptoms and how to contact emergency medical services.
• Any workers who display or report any signs or symptoms of heat illness must not be left alone or sent home without being offered on-site first aid or emergency medical services.
• All workers must be closely observed during a heat wave.
• Any worker newly assigned to a high-heat area must be observed by a supervisor or designee during the first 14 days of employment.
• Training must be provided for all outdoor workers before starting any work involving heat illness risk. The training must be presented in a language that employees understand, and must be documented.
The Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board’s amendments become effective May 1 to address this year’s anticipated warmer weather.
“These modifications will help further reduce the heat-related risks associated with working outdoors,” says Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
With unusually high temperatures predicted for summer 2015, Cal/OSHA urges employers with outdoor workers to prepare for high heat now. Heat illness can include headaches, fatigue, excessive sweating and muscle cramps in the early stages, and can rapidly progress to mental confusion, vomiting, fainting, seizures and death.