Cal/OSHA Issues High Heat Advisory as Temperatures Rise Across the State
OAKLAND, Calif., March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness, as temperatures in the Central Valley and parts of Southern California are expected to reach the 80s today and into the weekend, with record highs expected in some areas.
“While California’s heat illness standards are the toughest in the country, we will continue to make sure employers and employees know the risks of heat illness and the steps that can be taken to prevent it,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, is a division within the DIR.
Cal/OSHA takes a comprehensive approach to preventing heat illness among outdoor workers. Its award-winning heat illness prevention campaign, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as outreach and training for California’s employers and workers.
“Heat illness can easily be prevented,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “What’s essential is access to adequate water, rest and shade, training for workers and supervisors on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, and ensuring emergency response procedures are in place in case of a medical emergency.”
California’s heat regulation requires all employers with outdoor workers take basic steps to protect outdoor workers:
- 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.
- Ensure that workers are given enough time to get used to the heat, or “acclimatize” to the heat. This is especially important for new workers–and always during a sudden heat wave–and can mean the difference between life and death.
- Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on the steps to take if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.
Special “High Heat” procedures are also required when temperatures reach 95 degrees and workers are at greater risk. At these times, supervisors must take extra precautions:
- Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
- Remind workers to drink water frequently.
- Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of their employment (to ensure acclimatization).
- Have effective communication systems in place to be able to summon emergency assistance if necessary.
Cal/OSHA will inspect worksites in outdoor industries such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and others throughout the heat season. Through partnerships with various employer and worker organizations in different industries, Cal/OSHA will also provide consultation, outreach and training on heat illness prevention.
A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA’s website. Online information on the heat illness prevention requirements and training materials can be obtained at Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site.
Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, can call the California Heat Helpline toll free at 1-877-99-CALOR. Recorded messages in English and Spanish detailing resources for California workers are also available toll free at 1-866-924-9757.