“Beat the Heat” – Do You Have a Heat Illness Prevention Plan?
New records for “hot” were set this week in many areas of our state and the southwest. Temperatures during this time of year can reach triple digits. California routinely ranks among the top states for heat-related deaths among workers. While we have discussed this important health topic before, it bears repeating as we enter the first days of summer. To protect employees during these summer months, CAL/OSHA requires all employers to have a Heat Illness Prevention Plan. Core components of the required plan are listed below:
Procedures for providing sufficient water – 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.
Procedures for providing access to 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. The shade temperature requirement takes effect at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of shade provided needs to accommodate all of your employees who are at risk due to outdoor heat conditions.
High-heat 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.
The Heat Illness Prevention Plan must be written both in English and in the language understood by the majority of employees. It must be available to employees at the worksite, as well as to representatives of Cal/OSHA upon request. It may be integrated into the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
For more information on requirements surrounding California’s Heat Illness Prevention Plan, please visit: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/etools/08-006