Heat Illness – Planning and Prevention
Ahhhh, Central Valley summers… those months when anything below 90 degrees feels downright refreshing and finding a shady parking spot is like winning the lottery.
If you have employees working outdoors, this is also the season to be vigilant about heat illness prevention and response. Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard sets forth several requirements for California employers:
• Establish, implement, and maintain an effective Heat Illness Prevention Plan.
• Ensure employees are provided with potable water that is “fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided to employees free of charge.”
• Ensure appropriate access to shade when the outdoor temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon employee request.
• Allow employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for no less than five minutes, when needed to prevent heat illness.
• Provide effective training to employees and supervisors regarding heat illness factors, prevention, recognition, and response.
• Certain industries including agriculture, construction, and landscaping, must also develop and implement high-heat procedures when the temperature exceeds 95 degrees.
Even if your employees do not work outdoors, Cal/OSHA’s Injury & Illness Prevention Standard requires companies to address possible health and safety hazards, which may include indoor heat. Be sure to stay aware of workplace spaces that are not air conditioned or have poor air circulation, where the steps above may be needed to keep employees safe.
Cal/OSHA has recently updated its Special Emphasis Program related to heat illness prevention, which specifically states that all heat-related complaints will be addressed by on-site inspection within three working days of receipt by the Division.
Contact one of our certified Consultants if you have questions about developing a Heat Illness Prevention Plan for your business or compliance with other Cal/OSHA requirements. The California Department of Industrial Relations offers a variety of heat illness prevention training tools and publications, as well.