By: Jizell Lopez, The Saqui Law Group
Yesterday, Cal/OSHA issued a news release urging all employers to protect outdoor workers from heat illness. The news release is available here. Several cities across the state are already dealing with high heat temperatures and it is expected to stay between 90 and 100 degrees for the next few weeks, which triggers an employer’s obligation to comply with California Heat Illness Prevention guidelines. With temperatures on the rise throughout California, this is an important time for employers to re-evaluate their company’s Heat Illness Prevention guidelines and ensure that their policies are updated and compliant.
California’s Heat Illness Prevention standard applies to all workers that spend significant time working outdoors, including but not limited to agricultural workers, construction workers, landscaping workers, security guards, groundskeepers, and delivery drivers. Pursuant to California’s Heat Illness Prevention guidelines, employers are required to train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, develop emergency response procedures, and train workers on how to execute those procedures when necessary. There are special procedures for high-heat conditions where temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, including observing workers for signs of heat illness, designating workers on each worksite authorized to call for emergency medical services, encouraging workers to drink at least 1 quart of water per hour, and holding pre-shift meetings before work to review high heat procedures. As Cal/OSHA points out, special attention should be given to new workers who are not used to working under hot conditions.
Cal/OSHA urges employers to assess the risk of heat illness based on the worker’s duties and to take appropriate steps to prevent outdoor workers from getting ill. Further, Cal/OSHA emphasized that to prevent heat illness, it is critical for supervisors to be effectively trained on emergency procedures in the event a worker does get sick.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
California employers that typically experience cooler weather may want to take a look at their Heat Illness Prevention protocols and ensure compliance. Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites throughout the heat season in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations. Cal/OSHA also provides further online information on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials, available here.