Rising Temperatures: Protect Outdoor Workers From Heat Illness

Heat illness can develop into serious illness or death.
Heat illness can develop into serious illness or death.

Cal/OSHA reminds employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness as temperatures reach triple digits in parts of California. Workers should be encouraged to take preventative cool-down breaks in the shade.

“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.”

Outdoor workplaces include agriculture, construction, road work, landscaping, storage yards and other operations.

California’s heat illness prevention regulation requires employers with outdoor workers to:

  • Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
  • Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Provide free, fresh, pure, suitably cool water so that each worker can drink at least one quart of water per hour. Encourage workers to do so.
  • 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. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.

Heat illness can develop into serious illness or death. Supervisors need to be effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick so the sick employee receives treatment immediately.

Cal/OSHA provides online information on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials. The agency also offers a Heat Illness Prevention e-tool with real world examples of heat illness and best practices for an effective heat illness prevention plan.

CalChamber members can use the Heat Illness Prevention Plan – Outdoor Employees to develop your company’s plan and procedures for complying with Cal/OSHA regulations on heat illness for outdoor workers. The form is also available in Spanish.

Katie Culliton, Editor

CalChamber members can read more about Heat Illness, including providing shade and training employees on heat illness, in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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