Cal/OSHA urges employers to prepare for sizzling temperatures
OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With heat waves predicted across many California regions over the next week, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA) urges all employers of outdoor workers to revisit their heat illness prevention process and their emergency response procedures to ensure they are thoroughly prepared.
“Cal/OSHA’s adoption of the nation’s first set of heat illness standards has done much to prevent heat deaths throughout California, but that does not mean our work is done,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “This is going to be the hottest weather in three years after two summers of milder temperatures. Employers must be prepared to handle periods of high heat, conduct training refreshers and plan ahead so that their front line staff and supervisors can take proper precautions during times of high heat.”
“Heat illness is preventable and should not occur if proper procedures are followed. As high heat develops across the state, I remind all employers to take special care so that they can provide the appropriate safeguards for their outdoor workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “This includes closely monitoring the weather and modifying the work accordingly. It also includes making sure everyone on the worksite knows how to prevent heat illness, as well as how to handle a medical emergency.”
The regulations require employers to:
- 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.
- Give workers a period of time to get used to the heat, especially during a heat wave or for new workers. This is known as “acclimatization.”
- Prepare a site-specific emergency heat plan and train workers on steps to take if someone gets sick.
The heat illness prevention standard was strengthened two years ago to include a high heat provision that must be implemented by five different industries when temperatures reach 95 degrees. These procedures include observing employees, closely supervising new employees, and reminding all employees throughout the shift to drink water. The specified industries are agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction material or other heavy material. However, all employers are advised to take additional precautions during periods of high heat.
A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA’s website. Additional information on heat illness prevention and training material in both English and Spanish can be found on Cal/OSHA’s website and at the “Water Rest Shade“ campaign site. Materials in additional languages can be accessed through the website.
Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Unit (800) 963-9424 provides free information and training on occupational safety and health hazards and ways to protect workers from heat illness, confined space hazards and other workplace hazards. Consultation Services’ offices throughout the state are posted on Cal/OSHA’s website.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, can call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757 or 1-877-99-CALOR.
SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA