February 25, 2015

Standards Board Approves Changes to Heat Illness Regs

Last week, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board approved changes to the state’s Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) Regulations (Cal. Code of Regs. tit. 8, § 3395).  The board intends to request that the revisions be made effective May 1, 2015, so that the changes are in place prior to the upcoming heat season.

Here is a summary of the HIP regulation revisions:

Water: “Fresh, pure, suitably cool" water must be located as close as practicable to where employees are working, with exceptions when employers can demonstrate infeasibility.

Shade: Must be provided when temperature reaches 80° F (current threshold is 85° F), and accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods, and those taking onsite meal periods.

“Preventative cool-down rest“:  Employees must be 1) monitored for symptoms of heat illness; 2) encouraged to remain in the shade; and 3) cannot be ordered back to work until symptoms are gone. Employees with symptoms must be provided appropriate first aid or emergency response.

High-heat procedures: Trigger remains at 95° F. Employer must ensure "effective" observation and monitoring, including a mandatory buddy system and regular communication with employees working by themselves. During high heat, employees must be provided with a minimum 10-minute cool-down period every two hours. This means that employees must be given an extra 10-minute rest period for workdays longer than 8 hours during high heat periods.

Emergency response procedures: Requires effective communication; response to signs and symptoms of heat illness; and procedures for contacting emergency responders to help workers in distress.

Acclimation procedures: Employers must closely observe all employees during a heat wave (80° F). New employees must be closely observed for their first two weeks on the job.

Employers will have to revise their heat illness programs and train employees prior to May 1, assuming the Office of Administrative Law approves the Standards Board’s request for an early effective date. Normally, the changes would be effective July 1.  Western Growers will update members when the effective date is officially announced.

Western Growers Insurance Services has safety specialists that can provide required heat illness training and assist you in developing your heat illness plan.  Please contact Greg Nelson, vice president insurance services at (949) 885-2287 for more information.