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Heat Illness Prevention

As of May 1, 2015, California employers are required to adhere to new Cal/OSHA standards for Heat Illness Prevention.

Shade

Shade must be erected when temperature reaches 80° F. The amount of shade provided must be sufficient to accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods and meal periods so they can sit in a normal posture fully in the shade without having to be in physical contact with each other.

Shade may be provided by any natural or artificial means that does not expose employees to unsafe or unhealthy conditions and that does not deter or discourage access or use.

Natural shade provided by citrus trees is an acceptable form of shade.

Shade must be easy for employees to reach. Workers should not encounter any obstacles, hazardous or unreasonably unpleasant conditions while moving towards the shade or resting in the shade.

Water

Water must be fresh, pure, suitably cool and located as close as practicable to where employees are working, unless an employer can demonstrate infeasibility.

Fresh and Pure

Water must be fit to drink (i.e., potable) and free from odors that would discourage workers from drinking the water.

If an employer supplies individual water containers, the containers must be clean, and a source of potable water (e.g., a municipal water source) must be readily available. Water from non-approved or non-tested water sources (e.g., untested wells) is not acceptable. If hoses or connections are used, they must be governmentally approved for potable drinking water systems, as shown on the manufacturer’s label.

Suitably Cool

During hot weather, the water must be cooler than the ambient temperature, but not so cool as to cause discomfort.

As Close As Practicable to Where Employees Are Working

During a Cal/OSHA inspection, the inspector may ask the supervisor to describe the factors the employer considered in deciding where to place water. For example, although the employer may show it is impossible or prohibited by law to place water stations within rows of crops where employees are working, it may be possible to place the water stations at the end of rows. Because water containers are smaller than shade structures, they can be placed closer to employees than shade structures can be. Placing water only in designated shade areas or where toilet facilities are located is not sufficient. When employees are working across large areas, water should be placed in multiple locations

Preventative Cool-Down Rest Period

Employees will have to be monitored for signs of heat illness and may not be ordered back to work until any signs or symptoms of heat illness have abated or five minutes have elapsed, whichever is later. Employees with symptoms must be provided appropriate first aid or emergency response.

High-Heat Procedures

Employers must implement high-heat procedures when the temperature reaches 95º F.

Employers are responsible for observing employees for alertness and signs or symptoms of heat illness. The employer shall ensure effective employee observation/monitoring by implementing one or more of the following:

  • Supervisor or designee observation of 20 or fewer employees
  • Mandatory buddy system
  • Regular communication with sole employee such as by radio or cellular phone, or
  • Other effective means of observation.

One or more employees on each worksite must be designated as authorized to call for emergency medical services, and allowing other employees to call for emergency services when no designated employee is available.

Pre-shift meetings will be required to review high-heat procedures, to encourage them to drink plenty of water, and to remind them of their right to take a cool-down rest when necessary.

Agricultural employees are required to take a preventative cool-down rest period for at least 10 minutes every two hours. Cal/OSHA has indicated that these breaks can be concurrent with IWC-required rest periods. In addition, agricultural employees working more than eight hours will have to take such a rest period at the end of the eighth hour of work and at the end of every even-numbered hour of work after that.

Heat Acclimation Procedures

Employers/supervisors must closely observe all employees during a heat wave (80° F). New employees must be closely observed for their first two weeks on the job.