Indoor Heat Illness Rules: Latest Draft Still Too Complex, Burdensome
While the latest version of the Cal/OSHA proposed draft indoor heat illness rule is improved over prior versions, a coalition of California Chamber of Commerce-led employer groups continues to assert that the rule remains complex and overly burdensome, without increasing employee protections.
The coalition members take the safety and health of their employees very seriously. Many coalition members were involved with the development and implementation of the outdoor heat illness regulation and have significant experience with how to effectively prevent heat illness.
CalChamber Coalition Letter
In a March 1 letter, the coalition reiterated that confusing and burdensome regulations won’t increase employee protections and will lead to a lack of compliance and inability of the state to enforce the rule.
The coalition offered numerous sets of technical amendments including revisions to the definition of “indoor” as it related to vehicles, ensuring the rule applies only when employees are present in the area, and the nature of control measures when the temperature reaches 90 degrees indoors (administrative, engineering and personal protective equipment).
In 2017, Cal/OSHA convened two stakeholder advisory committees to tackle the challenge of reaching consensus among interested parties from industry, labor, management and academia on how to regulate the prevention of heat illness for indoor workers.
To date, Cal/OSHA has provided draft rules for discussion only — no formal rulemaking has begun. These draft rules propose to regulate all indoor workplaces — a place of employment would be either indoors or outdoors; not neither and not both.
Defining an indoor workplace, as opposed to an outdoor workplace, has proven to be challenging, including determining when vehicles and equipment are indoor or outdoor. Many employers have both outdoor and indoor workplaces, with some or all employees transitioning between both.
These questions of scope require industry input to provide Cal/OSHA the most rational and complete understanding of operations and risks, as well as rational, feasible policies to address those identified risks.
Although incrementally better than prior drafts, the latest discussion draft still creates a program for indoor employees that is unnecessarily burdensome, expensive, overly complex and confusing.
Although there is no timeframe, it is anticipated that the next step is for Cal/OSHA to begin the formal rulemaking process.
All industries with any indoor workplace that reaches or exceeds 80 degrees — from warehouses to restaurants to laundry operations, delivery drivers and many others — are encouraged to participate in the stakeholder discussions. SB 1167, the 2016 legislation requiring Cal/OSHA to adopt indoor heat illness rules, does not specify any exceptions.
To participate in CalChamber’s stakeholder working group, please send an email of interest with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.