California’s Threshold for Required Heat Illness Safeguards
An employer’s obligations to protect outdoor workers from heat-relatedillnesses starts at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 26.7 degrees Celsius to be precise). So say California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB) regulations.
The regulations incorporate common sense rules for keeping workers safe:• Have free, fresh, and “suitably cool” drinking water available onsite
• If temperatures top 80 degrees, provide access to shady rest areas
• Allow and encourage preventative cool-down to avoid overheating
• Take specified additional measures for high-heat (over 95 degrees), such as observing employees for signs of heat illness, having a buddy system, and ensuring 10-minute cool-down breaks every two hours
• Provide employee training to prevent heat illness
California’s Division on Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)provides additional guidance, including information on what triggers heat illness, what to do about it, and creating a required written prevention plan.
A heat illness plan is one part of an employer’sIllness and Injury Prevention Plan (IIPP) and must be available at the worksite(s) to which it applies. If a business has a majority of workers who are non-English speakers, then it must translate its plan into the language(s) understood by the majority of the company’s workers.
Expect Cal/OSHA to engage in increased enforcement of these heatillness preventative measures during the summer. See, Cal/OSHA Increases Enforcement (June, 2011).
The OSHSB proposed a comparable set of regulations for indoor employees earlier this year, which has been going through revisions and is now in the rulemaking process.
Employers that have high-heat environments indoors or outdoorsshould be vigilant about protecting employees from heat illness whether specific rules exist or not and should regularly review IIPP measures to prevent heat-related illness.
See also:• Summer Is Here – Are your Outdoor Workers Protected from Heat Illness? (June 2018)
• New Regulations Coming to Prevent Heat Illness in the California Workplace (April 2017)
• New Heat Illness Prevention Measures Now in Place (May, 2015)
For further information,please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.
Helena KobrinAugust 9, 2019