October 2, 2014 – Oakland—Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness, as temperatures north and south will climb into the 90s today, with forecasts of 100 degrees in some areas over the weekend.
“Heat waves can occur well into autumn in California, so it’s important to remind employers of their responsibilities to protect workers from heat-related illness,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, is a division of DIR.
California’s heat regulation requires all employers with outdoor workers to take basic steps to protect outdoor workers:
- Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.
- Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break.
- Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on the steps to take if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.
It is recommended that employers take steps to help their workers acclimatize, or get used to working outdoors in the heat. Acclimatization is important for new workers and for everyone during times of high heat.
“Employers need to be vigilant during a heat wave, including closely supervising new employees who may not be acclimatized, and must respond promptly to any heat-related symptoms,” said acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
Special “High Heat” procedures are also required when temperatures reach 95 degrees and workers are at greater risk. At these times, supervisors must take extra precautions:
- Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
- Remind workers to drink water frequently.
- Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of their employment (to ensure acclimatization).
- Have effective communication systems in place to be able to summon emergency assistance if necessary.
Cal/OSHA will inspect worksites in outdoor industries such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and others throughout the heat season. Through partnerships with various employer and worker organizations in different industries, Cal/OSHA will also provide consultation, outreach and training on heat illness prevention.
Online information on the heat illness prevention requirements and training materials can be obtained at Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA’s website.
Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.
Employees with workplace safety questions or complaints, including heat illness, can contact the Cal/OSHA district office in their region to file a confidential report. Recorded messages in English and Spanish detailing resources for California workers are also available toll free at 1-866-924-9757
Source: CA DIR
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