May 16, 2024

Heat Safety Comes into Focus as Temperatures Rise 

Under federal and state laws, all employers have a duty to take steps to help workers become acclimated to high heat conditions and to prevent potentially deadly heat-related situations. Federal OSHA provides agricultural employers with many useful resources through its OSHA Publications website. Cal/OSHA also provides employers with compliance tools when it comes to preventing heat-related illnesses through its online Heat Illness Prevention Tool 

Employers in federal OSHA states can expect additional heat-related regulations in early 2025 as OSHA just received a unanimous recommendation to push forward its Proposed Rulemaking for heat. Although formal rulemaking is underway, OSHA continues to enforce heat-related hazards through its General Duty Clause which requires employers to provide an environment free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm (e.g., heat-related illness).  

As discussed here and here, employers in California – already a forerunner on the issue of outdoor heat illness prevention – should prepare for Cal/OSHA’s final steps in releasing its indoor heat illness rule.  

A Few Key Tips 

As in all cases, preparation is the best course of action. Employers should begin reviewing existing Heat Illness Prevention Plans ahead of the scorching temperatures anticipated this season and encourage supervisors to begin discussing the following topics with employees: 

  • The location of the company’s Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP) and how it can be accessed.  
  • Location of all designated cool-down areas. 
  • Water provisions and how best to access them.  
  • Emergency response procedures and effective communication best practices.  
  • What to look for to easily identify the effects of heat on newly assigned employees.