Summer arrived in California this week as temperatures soared throughout most of the state. While this blistering heat affects everyone, it can be deadly to California’s outdoor workers in industries such as agricultural or construction. In response to triple-digit forecasts, Cal/OSHA will conduct high-heat inspections at outdoor worksites to ensure compliance with California’s heat illness prevention regulations and other workplace safety and health requirements.
Certain industries, like agriculture, construction, landscaping and oil and gas extraction, must implement high-heat procedures when the temperature equals or exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
To prevent heat illness, all employers with outdoor workers must:
- 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 fresh, pure, suitably cool and free drinking water to workers so that each worker can drink at least one quart per hour and encourage workers to do so; and
- Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, encouraging 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, and workers experiencing possible overheating should take a preventative cool-down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Some workers with an existing medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and using anti-inflammatory medications, need to be extra vigilant as it can increase their risk for heat illness.
Supervisors should be effectively trained on heat illness emergency procedures to help a sick employee receive treatment immediately. Otherwise, the symptoms may develop into a serious illness or even death.
Cal/OSHA offers details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials on their Heat Illness Prevention webpage and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available.
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