As temperatures rise across the US, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illnesses. Several heat advisories have already been issued by the National Weather Service in California, and summer has just begun. Several areas of California hit triple digits in early June, and several other states across the country are experiencing hot temperatures as well.
Heat exposure is a safety concern taken seriously by Cal/OSHA. High heat inspections at outdoor work sites are conducted to ensure workplace environments are in compliance with California’s heat illness prevention regulation and other workplace safety and health requirements. Cal/OSHA reminds California employers of the four steps required and crucial to maintain employee well-being during the hot summer months. These same four steps can be applied to outdoor workplaces across the US and in other countries.
1. Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
2. Train – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
3. Provide Water – Ensure that water is available to employees. Water should be fresh, pure, suitably cool and at no-cost so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour. Encourage workers to take water breaks.
4. Provide Shade – Make sure workers have a shaded space when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to take a break when requested. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. Never wait until the worker feels sick to take the cool-down.
Additionally, employers must promote proactive communication about heat illnesses. Workers experiencing possible overheating should take preventative action and feel comfortable informing their employers of heat related illness symptoms.
To prevent heat illness, supervisors must be effectively trained on emergency procedures in the event of illness. Training ensures sick employees receive treatment immediately and the symptoms do not develop into a more serious illness or even death. Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention program includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training for employers and workers.
Read more about the program here.
SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA