In preparation for this week’s projected high heat temperatures throughout inland areas of California, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) is reminding employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness.
Steps to Prevent Heat Illness
Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:
- Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
- Shade – Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cooldown rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications also can increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.
To prevent heat illness, it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death.
Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of heat regulations, as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers.
Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online atCal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention webpage and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool also is available.
Employers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at (800) 963-9424.
California Chamber of Commerce members can use the Heat Illness Prevention Plan – Outdoor Employees to develop a company plan and procedures for complying with Cal/OSHA regulations on heat illness for outdoor workers. The form also is available in Spanish.