With hot weather anticipated for the foreseeable future, California Ag employers should be sure that they are in compliance with the state’s Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) standard for outdoor employment before Cal/OSHA pays a visit. In fact, employers in all states would do well to have a Heat Illness Prevention Plan that includes the following:
- Procedures for providing sufficient water
- Procedures for providing access to shade
- High-heat procedures
- Emergency response procedures
- Acclimatization methods and procedures
California’s Heat Illness Prevention standard has more specific requirements including:
- Water must be “fresh, pure and suitably cool” and located as close as practicable to where employees are working, with exceptions when employers can demonstrate infeasibility.
- Shade must be present at 80 degrees and must accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods, plus those on site who are taking meal breaks.
- Employees taking a “preventive cool-down rest” must be monitored for symptoms of heat illness and encouraged to remain in the shade and not ordered back to work until symptoms are gone. Employees with symptoms must be provided appropriate first aid or emergency response.
- High-heat procedures are now triggered at 95 degrees. Employers must ensure “effective” observation and monitoring, including a mandatory buddy system and regular communication with employees working by themselves. Agricultural employees must be provided with a minimum 10-minute cool-down period every two hours during high-heat periods.
- Emergency response procedures must include effective communication, response to signs and symptoms of heat illness and procedures for contacting emergency responders to help stricken workers.
- Acclimation procedures must include close observation of all employees during a heat wave—defined as temperatures of at least 80 degrees. New employees must be closely observed for their first two weeks on the job.
In addition to the above, Cal/OSHA inspectors routinely request evidence of the following elements of HIP program:
- A written HIP plan available in writing in both English and Spanish (or other language understood by the majority of the employees) that must be made available at the worksite to employees and to Cal/OSHA representatives upon request. The plan must include:
- Procedures for the provision of water and access to shade;
- The high heat procedures;
- Emergency response procedures; and
- Acclimatization methods and procedures.
- Communications systems that are effective in the places where your workers are working.
- A first aid and emergency response plan.
- Employee training. Inspectors will interview employees to ensure they understand the dangers of heat illness and ways to prevent it.
Western Growers Insurance Services has trained safety specialists who can assist members with heat illness training and preparation. For information, please contact Ken Cooper, Director of Risk Strategy at WGIS, at (949) 379-3858.
For additional information, visit Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page or Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention e-tool or contact WG’s Vice President and General Counsel Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.