As summer approaches in California, Cal/OSHA has sent out a press release to remind employers to take the necessary precautions to prevent heat illness. The California summers have been brutally hot lately, especially in my geographic area of practice, the Central San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast. Cal/OSHA especially focuses their attention on heat illness in the agricultural sector in the San Joaquin Valley. Temperatures can rise well into the 100's on most days in June, July and August, and employers need to take heed of the Cal/OSHA standards relating to Heat Illness in order to protect their employees, and in turn, protect themselves from violations of those standards.
And while Cal/OSHA's enforcement arm is feared by most employers, their educational arm may allow employers to avoid that dreaded enforcement arm [and the citations and penalties that normally come with the enforcement arm.]
The press release reminds employers that:
"Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. To prevent heat illness, the law requires employers to provide outdoor workers fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees and whenever requested by a worker, cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks and maintain a written prevention plan with training on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency.
- Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
- Rest – Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
- Shade – Provide proper shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Workers have the right to request and be provided shade to cool off at any time."
They also provide online tools to help employers maintain updated Heat Illness Prevention Plans, and other material to assist in maintaining compliance with the regulations relating to Heat Illness Prevention. Employers may also contact the Cal/OSHA Consultation Services as well, to request assistance or field questions.
Again, employers whose employees face the hot California summer sun during work days need to make sure they are adhering to the above standards. And it never helps to ask for help in making sure they are in compliance! Protect from the HOT SUN, or end up in HOT WATER with Cal/OSHA!