June 13, 2024

Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers to Protect Workers from High Heat

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) is reminding employers across the state to implement heat illness protections for workers as high temperatures are forecasted for the first several weeks of June. 

As temperatures begin to climb for the first time this year, employers must implement heat illness protections and begin closely observing workers for any signs of heat illness. 

In indoor workplaces, employers must correct unsafe conditions for workers created by heat as part of their Injury and Illness Prevention Program. 

In outdoor workplaces, employers must take steps to protect workers from heat illness by providing water, rest, shade, and training. 

Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. To prevent heat illness, the law requires employers to provide outdoor workers fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees, and, whenever requested by a worker, cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks. Employers must also implement and maintain a written prevention plan and provide effective training for supervisors that includes recognizing the common signs and symptoms of heat illness, and what to do in case of an emergency. 

In certain industries – including agriculture – when the temperature at outdoor worksites reaches or exceeds 95 degrees, Cal/OSHA’s standard requires additional protections. High-heat procedures include ensuring employees are observed regularly for signs of heat illness and establishing effective communication methods so workers can contact a supervisor when needed. 

Employers with outdoor workers in all industries must take the following steps to prevent heat illness: 

  • Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures. 
  • Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention. 
  • Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool, and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 32 ounces (or four cups of water) per hour and encourage workers to do so. 
  • Rest – Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. 
  • Shade – Provide proper shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Workers have the right to request and be provided shade to cool off at any time. 

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of the heat regulation as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website. 

Cal/OSHA has also established the HIP Network; a voluntary partnership intended to increase awareness of heat illness prevention in California and the importance of taking steps to prevent work-related illnesses and fatalities. To join the HIP Network employers can email [email protected].