New Regulations Protecting Outdoor Workers From Heat Illness Are Now in Effect – Are You Prepared?
Records from the National Climatic Data Center show that 2014 was the hottest calendar year in California since 1895. Cal/OSHA is urging employers with outdoor workers to prepare for high heat during the 2015 summer months now. To help ensure employers are focusing on worker safety during upcoming high-temperature months, new regulations have been put in place to prevent heat-related illness.
While the new regulations describe measures to prevent heat illness in outdoor workplaces, the same precautions are important when we are doing yard work at home or are involved in recreational activities during summer days. We all need to know how to prevent heat illness and recognize the dangers that can result from physical activity when the temperatures climb.
Here’s a summary of important highlights from the new Heat Illness Regulations Amendment which went into effect May 1, 2015.
Water Provision – New state regulations mandate it is the employer’s responsibility to provide fresh, pure, and suitably cool water to employees free of charge. The water shall be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working. Where drinking water is not plumbed or otherwise continuously supplied, it must be provided in sufficient quantity at the beginning of the work shift to provide one quart per employee per hour for drinking for the entire shift.
Shade – “Shade,” or blockage of direct sunlight, may be provided by any natural or artificial means that does not expose employees to unsafe or unhealthy conditions. The regulations also require that the means of providing the shade does not deter or discourage access or use of that shade; in other words, workers should not encounter any obstacles or unreasonably unpleasant situations that would discourage them from using the shade. The shade temperature requirement has been lowered from 85 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of shade provided needs to accommodate all of your employees who at risk due to outdoor heat conditions.
High-Heat (95+ Degrees) Procedures – When employees are required to work outdoors when the temperature is expected to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, employers must conduct pre-shift meetings before the commencement of work to review high-heat procedures, encourage employees to drink plenty of water, and remind them of their right to take a cool-down rest when necessary. In addition, one or more employees must be designated at each worksite to call for emergency medical services during high-heat conditions when those services are needed, and employees must be encouraged to call for emergency services when a designated employee is not available.
Training – Employers must provide training to make employees aware of their rights regarding these new regulations protecting them from heat-related illness regulation.
For more information, please refer to the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention e-Tool by clicking on the link.