February 18, 2015

Cal OSH Standards Board to Vote on Revisions to Heat Illness Prevention Regs

On February 19, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will vote on revisions to the heat illness prevention standard (General Industry Safety Orders §3395). Previous proposals were roundly criticized by Western Growers and other industry groups in written comments and at a public meeting last September.

The earlier proposals contained requirements that water must be within 400 feet of workers and shade placed no more than 700 feet from workers.  In December, the board published a 15-day notice of proposed modifications which would now require water and shade to be placed “as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.”

The latest proposal maintains the prior proposal’s lowering of the “shade-up” trigger temperature from the current 85°F to 80°F. However, the prior proposal’s lowering of the threshold for “high heat” procedures from 95°F to 85°F has been removed. Despite these improvements, industry groups maintain that no evidence has been produced by Cal/OSHA to justify changing a regulation which has been so successful at reducing incidents of heat exposure in outdoor industries.

Look for updates on the proposed revisions to the HIP standard in future editions of Spotlight.